Last week, the city of Madison announced that it will no longer be recycling plastic bags now that it doesn’t have a buyer for them. This got us thinking: What happens to recycled plastic anyway? Where does it go?
It turns out the answer is more complicated than we’d imagined. To help us sort it out, WORT news director Chali Pittman spends the hour with investigative reporter Laura Sullivan, who has recently been reporting on plastics and the recycling industry for NPR.
The short answer? The American people have been sold a lie about plastic—only about 10 percent of it actually ends up being recycled, with the rest littering trash and landfills around the world. Laura Sullivan outlines this history, describes her travels to where all this plastic ends up, and talks about the infrastructure and changes that would be required to get us out of this mess.
Laura Sullivan is an award-winning investigative reporter for NPR and an on-air correspondent for the PBS television show FRONTLINE. Her recent reporting on plastics includes “How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled” and “Big Oil Evaded Regulation And Plastic Pellets Kept Spilling.”