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Employee shares distressing behind-the-scenes photo of waste at their workplace: ‘It’s purely dystopian’

“It is common where I live…”

“It is common where I live ..."

Photo Credit: iStock

Recycling is one of the easiest ways to keep our waste down, but so many businesses are sadly shirking this responsibility. Another store employee has shared on Reddit how recyclables are actually getting thrown away. 

A photo posted to r/Anticonsumption on Reddit shows a cart piled high with cardboard boxes and pet food. The caption reads, “The whole plaza (Petco, Rite Aid, local businesses, etc.) throws away all their recycling (reusable boxes, bags, and trash) in a trash compactor.” 

“It is common where I live ..."
Photo Credit: Reddit

“Uggghhh that’s annoying. What a waste,” another Redditor said

Stories like this are just another example of companies seemingly taking shortcuts when they could help curb the waste problems in the United States. This particular problem may be specific to this plaza rather than a reflection on any of the mentioned brands’ corporate policies, but throwing away cardboard and other recyclable items, or trashing edible food and usable items, is still not a rare problem across businesses worldwide. It is unfortunately all too common to see stores throwing out perfectly good products and tons of seemingly still-safe-to-eat food.

While stores need to pick up the slack, according to a report from Columbia, our country’s recycling system leaves much to be desired. 

“The way the system is configured right now, recycling is a service that competes — and unsurprisingly often loses — for local funding that is also needed for schools, policing, et cetera,” said Stephanie Kersten-Johnston, an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Master’s Program and director of circular ventures at The Recycling Partnership. 

“Without dedicated investment, recycling infrastructure won’t be sufficient. In addition, we need to resolve the simple math equation that currently exists — when it’s cheap to landfill, recycling will not be ‘worthwhile’ so we need to start to recognize what landfill really is: a waste of waste!” Kersten-Johnston added. 

Getting involved and helping increase awareness of issues like this is a great way to help the planet, and some stores — including The Body Shop and L’Occitane — even have money-saving programs to encourage recycling.  

“It is common where I live that a company will actually get paid by a recycling vendor to take their cardboard. It has to be a clean stream though (only cardboard, no food contamination),” one person shared.

Another person wrote, “If you live in a place that can compost, see if you can get them, or at least one store, to give you their cardboard, so you can compost it!“

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