As the world’s population grows and becomes more urban and affluent, the amount of solid waste we produce grows and grows. Over the past century, the total amount has risen tenfold. By 2025, the world-wide total is expected to double again. The average person in the United States throws away their body weight in garbage every month.
In 2008, Israel was on the verge of catastrophe. A decade-long drought in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East was scorching the area. Israel’s largest source of fresh water, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped to within inches of the so-called black line at which point irreversible salt infiltration would flood the lake and ruin it forever.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to ban expanded polystyrene, the foam plastic used in food packaging, packing peanuts, coffee cups, and more. It is one of the most extensive bans of this type in the U.S.
One of the most notable success stories in recycling is that of structural plastic lumber. The material is mostly polyethylene reinforced with stiff plastics or recycled composites. Made from milk containers, coffee cups, and other recycled plastics, structural plastic lumber is lighter than steel, longer-lasting than natural lumber and strong enough to support 120-ton locomotives.