You toss your plastic water bottle in a recycling bin after coming home from a trip to the beach, hoping the plastic from that bottle will be in next year’s plastic bottle, right? It most likely will not. Currently, plastic can only be re-manufactured a limited number of times, at best into a lower quality product because it degrades each time it is recycled. The value of recycled plastic may be low enough that your bottle is instead burned in an incinerator or dumped into a landfill. A few years ago, that plastic might have been sold to China or another foreign nation. However, over the last few years, countries across the Pacific are putting restrictions on importing U.S. waste. Without these export markets, the U.S. recycling industry is in serious trouble, as exemplified by your plastic bottle’s likely journey to a landfill or incinerator. Of course, using a reusable water bottle would have avoided this issue, and for that reason, reduction and reuse strategies are preferable to recycling, even when recycling works. This report dicusses the state of recycling in North Carolina and the soultions that are available.
The Clean Water Act, adopted in 1972 with overwhelming bi-partisan support, had the farsighted and righteous goal of making all our waterways safe for swimming. Yet 46 years later, all too often, Americans visiting their favorite beach are met by an advisory warning that the water is unsafe for swimming. Even worse, in recent years millions of Americans have been sickened by swimming in contaminated water.
Over the last decade, clean energy has grown by leaps and bounds. Technologies that can help America shift away from fossil fuels — like solar panels, wind turbines, LED light bulbs, energy storage and electric cars — have gone from novelties to core features of the nation's energy landscape.
Clean water is essential to America’s health and welfare. Our lakes, rivers, streams and creeks provide us with water to drink, add character to our most beautiful natural places, and give us places to fish and swim. Unfortunately, our waterways are under constant threat of pollution from dangerous facilities located along their banks. These facilities are accidents waiting to happen.
Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has over 53 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed – enough to power 10.1 million homes and 26 times as much capacity as was installed at the end of 2010. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them.
Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.