What happens to my recyclables?

It seems like an easy question with a simple answer: The garbage men pick them up.

But this is only the start of a long journey. Your recycling can leave your municipality in any number of ways. It is bought and resold, parsed and shipped out.

Perhaps your trash ends up in...

We want to "follow the trash." Somebody needs to make the phone calls to find out where your recycling goes and who is accountable for it.

We intend to pick one neigborhood in the bay area and hire a reporter who will spend two weeks following the trash as far as they can. They will find out where the trash goes after it has been picked up so that out of sight won't mean out of mind.

We hope to find that the trash is sent to recylcing plants and material recovery centers. But who knows. Every county and perhaps even cities within counties go through different steps to deal with waste disposal.

For more background check this article on some of the finer details of plastic recycling.

How will it help?

Knowing is half the battle.

We may not find a corrupt waste-management system - but wouldn't that be a relief?

These systems of government must be held accountable and that means asking questions. What we want to do is raise enough money so we can hire somebody to ask all the right questions nonstop for two weeks.

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