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Reusing is More Environmentally Friendly Than Recycling

 

We realized early on that reusing is more environmentally friendly than recycling. 

It's one of the reasons we decided to go with compostable packaging that's also refillable. It was obvious to us after studying the environmental impact of the traditional wine industry, that we needed to create a product with less waste. 

The recycling system in the US was built in the early 70s in a time of less people, less marketing, less consumption and more recycling facilities with enough resources to meet the need. Fifty years later, our consumption has outgrown our capacity to recycle effectively. Because let's remember that recycling is a business, businesses need to operate at a profit, and recycling is expensive. Much of what we think we're recycling nowadays is ending up in landfill. Especially when we're talking about glass and plastic. 


Five Reasons Reusing is More Environmentally Friendly Than Recycling


  1. In 2018, China stopped taking much of our recycling - prior to its ban on many types of plastic, China took 70% - that's about seven million tons - of US recycling every year. That leaves us with an amount of recycling waste that most cities do not have the infrastructure or the financial resources to handle, and now goes into landfill. "For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away." - Alana Semuels in the Atlantic, 2019 

  1. Increases in recycling capacity, efficiency, technology, mechanics and consumers for the recycled end product have lagged exponentially behind America's rate of consumption of disposable, single-use products. 

  1. According to an EPA article published in December of 2022, only 32.1% of American waste is currently recycled or composted.

  1. The recycling system in the US has leaks in the system:

leaks in the recycling process chart

Image Source: University of California Berkeley

 

  1. Glass is especially easy and especially difficult to recycle. Let us explain. In multi-stream recycling (that's the type where each recyclable gets its own bin and which only a handful of cities offer) nearly 90% of glass gets recycled and used to make more glass. In single-stream recycling all your recycling goes into one bin. That's the one nearly all cities that are still recycling use. Note, some cities have stopped picking up recycling all together because they don't have the infrastructure or financial resources to do so. But we digress, single stream recycling is very efficient. Sort of. The efficiency of one bin for everything leads to lots of broken glass, which then mucks up and eventually breaks the machines made to recycle it, costing the recycling company more to recycle the glass than to toss it in the landfill. Seeing a theme here aren't you? That broken glass also gets into the other types of recycling - paper and plastic - and mucks up those systems as well, creating a cascade of unusable batches of recycling. 

According to Chemical and Engineering News:

  • 10 Million metric tons of glass is disposed of in the US every year.
  • Only 33% of glass tossed into single stream recycling (what most cities use) gets recycled and reused.


It's up to cities to fund and prioritize recycling programs in the US and sometimes it seems like there's not a lot a single person can do, but reusing is one of them. Of course, BOXT is a great choice for a luxury, refillable wine that also uses less energy in production and shipping. BOXT reduces the overall carbon footprint of our product by 84% compared to a single bottle of wine. So that's great news. Every little drop counts and just reusing a few times over buying single-use glass and plastic products helps. 

Show us how you reuse and upcyle @drinkboxt.
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