Meryll via shutterstock
Plastic waste bottles polyethylene recycling (Meryll via shutterstock)

Many Americans go through great pains to recycle plastic, but much of that plastic isn’t recycled at all.

In fact, the idea that plastics are refashioned into new products is largely a myth, Sharon Lerner writes in The Intercept.

“The vast majority of plastic that has ever been produced — 79% — has actually ended up in landfills or scattered around the world or burned, but not refashioned into new products, which is what we hope for when we talk about recycling,” Lerner says. “For plastic bags, it’s less than 1% of tens of billions that are used in the U.S. alone. And so overall in the U.S., our plastic recycling rate peaked in 2014 at 9.5% so that’s less than 10%.”

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This story is part of “Covering Climate Now,” a week-long global initiative of over 250 news outlets.