Mechanical recycling of plastic waste as a point source of microplastic pollutionBack to Resource Library
Scientists share results of research measuring microplastic pollution from mechanical recycling facilities. They found that microplastic pollution escaped from recycling facilities with and without wastewater treatment. Microplastic particles are a toxic and serious source of plastic pollution that contaminates air, waters, soils, the atmosphere, and the ocean.
Mechanical recycling is not a solution to plastic pollution, as the industry has only managed to incorporate 9% of all plastic ever made globally into new plastic products (usually adding fresh plastic and petrochemicals), as plastic production has increased. Most plastic collected as recycling is actually incinerated, tipped in a landfill, or shipped overseas. Because so-called “advanced recycling” typically requires the same sorting, washing, and shredding processes as mechanical recycling, this study could also have relevance in evaluating the risks of the “advanced recycling” industry.