Why American towns are more selective than ever about what they recycle

An ecological silver bullet is missing the target altogether.

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  • The seeming success of worldwide recycling depended on China's now abandoned role.
  • Municipalities are starting to limit the materials they'll recycle, and landfills are growing.
  • The real solution to our waste problem may lie in our past.
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Why China Isn't Taking America's Garbage Anymore—Literally

China's expanding middle class is changing the world. The results are a global recycling dilemma.

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Most of us don’t think of what happens to the plastic items we put in the recycling bin. It’s a matter of out of sight, out of mind. Some believe manufacturers turn them all into new products, but is that the case? What really happens after that plastic bottle leaves your hand? In truth, only 9.5% of all plastic in the U.S. is recycled. Surprisingly, 15% is burned for electricity or heat.

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