Wisconsin’s governor and legislature have both said the state should scrap all of its existing metal recycling and landfill, a move that would make Wisconsin the sixth state in the country to do so.
But what is it about recycling that makes it a problem?
And what are the consequences?
For example, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the rate of plastic in the US dropped from 6.4 tonnes per capita in 1980 to 1.5 tonnes in 2012, and a number of studies have found that plastic is linked to respiratory, neurological and reproductive problems.
The US government estimates that 1.6 million people are exposed to plastic debris every year.
And there are environmental and health concerns surrounding the metal recycling process.
For example:One study found that it could be harmful to pregnant women who consume plastic water bottles, as well as infants, who ingest plastics from plastic containers.
A 2014 study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that up to a third of children in New York City and New Jersey could develop hearing loss, headaches and difficulty concentrating after consuming plastic bags, cups and other packaging products.
And plastic waste from plastic bags can be harmful for fish and other aquatic life, as they can attract algae and cause blooms of dead algae.
The National Wildlife Federation also argues that the landfill industry has a lot to answer for, especially since a study by Waste Management found that more than a quarter of the plastic collected in the United States was destined for landfills.
In February, Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, who had said that recycling and landfilling was his top priority for the year, told the state legislature that he had proposed a law that would scrap all existing metal waste in the state, citing a report from the US EPA that found that recycling metal could cause cancer and lead to increased rates of respiratory diseases.
In response, environmental groups have launched a campaign called The Trash Bin, which calls on Governor Walker to scrap all plastic containers and scrap all metal recycling.
The Wisconsin Solid Waste Management Agency said that it would continue to recycle all plastic packaging, but that it has not been able to get enough plastic recycling in the market to make a dent in the problem.
Wisconsin is not the only state to do away with recycling.
The Minnesota Solid Waste Authority said it would scrap up to 80 per cent of all plastic in its system, while a Pennsylvania state senator, David Grosso, introduced a bill to scrap metal recycling entirely in his state.
The issue of landfill and recycling is complicated and hotly debated in the UK, where some experts argue that the problem has become too big to be solved by just throwing away plastic bottles, bags and other waste.
The UK’s Solid Waste Alliance, a group of organisations, including the Environment Agency, has called on the government to scrap the recycling and to recycle plastic bags at landfill sites.
The problem is that landfill and landfill waste are both used in manufacturing.
In a report published in the British Journal of Industrial Engineering, the group of academics wrote:In a recent study, the Institute of Economic Affairs at Oxford University found that while the recycling of plastics from landfill could make up a significant proportion of the UK’s landfill waste, the waste could also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and increase the risk of pollution from the transport of the plastics from the landfill site to landfilled areas.
A spokesperson for the Environment Protection Agency said the agency was working to identify ways to recycle plastics that are already in landfolds, which it said would result in “a substantial reduction in landfill and waste generation”.
The agency said it has received over 1.8 million complaints about plastic waste since 2015, and the agency said that the number of complaints about landfold waste has been decreasing.
The Environment Agency said it will work with landfill companies to make sure that waste is removed safely and in a way that does not have an impact on wildlife, the environment or other people’s health.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Solid Waste England and Wales said:In the meantime, we are working with landfill operators to ensure that the waste is not released to landfill sites where it could pose an unacceptable environmental risk.