One of Recology's trash pits. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images Staff
So there you are, holding an empty milk carton and staring at your kitchen trash can and your recycling bag, hoping for some kind of clue.
You squeeze the milk carton a little. Seems like it’s made of paper on the outside, so it’s probably recyclable, right? But wait, does it have a foil lining on the inside? And what’s the rule about the plastic spout? Do you have to cut that part out before you recycle it? The words “please recycle” are printed on the back, but does that mean please recycle THIS CONTAINER, or is it just a general philosophy?
What the hell are you supposed to do with this thing and so many things like it? Why is getting rid of trash so hard? Isn’t there someone we can blame?
In fact, yes. In the US, manufacturers put food in complicated, hard-to-recycle packaging because those manufacturers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up after themselves — taxpayers are.
“We as consumers get stuck with decisions that we never made,” says Senator Mona Das, sponsor of a bill that would — hopefully — fix Washington’s lousy recycling rates by bringing us more in line with how things have worked for decades in Europe and Canada.
Lobbyists in the other Washington aren't thrilled about it.
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