Plastics and Other So-Called Recyclables–The Problems

  • It takes three times more water to make a plastic bottle than it holds.
  • Manufacturing billions of plastic bottles every year uses the equivalent of ~17 million barrels of oil – enough energy to fuel more than a million American cars and light trucks for a year.
  • Only about 30% of plastic bottles make it to a recycling facility.
  • On our current trajectory, the oceans will contain an estimated one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastic than fish.
  • It is a common misconception to believe recycling is the best way to reduce one’s waste footprint. Recycling falls third in the pecking order of most impactful ways to remove materials from your waste stream:
  • 1st: Reduce
  • 2nd: Reuse
  • 3rd: Recycle/Compost

While all are beneficial, there is a priority and each category has different impacts.

The Impact of Change

Reducing what you consume is the best way to reduce your overall footprint. Reducing and reusing saves money, energy, and other natural resources; prevents water and air pollution; and extends the life of landfills.

At IMGC 2023, we are:

  • Providing reusable water bottles to all registrants.
  • Avoiding single-use plastics wherever possible. We are not serving beverages in single-use plastic bottles (except in rare, exceptional circumstances). We are using compostable bio-plastic utensils during for our pre-Conference Tour boxed lunches.
  • Minimizing paper use by

    • providing a “slimmed-down” printed program book.
    • printing on recycled paper.
    • providing speaker materials online only.
  • Reducing the amount of paper in the Welcome Bag.
  • Providing a “Swap Table” to allow you to share unneeded items from your Welcome Bag. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
  • Using potted flower arrangements as centerpieces, and reusing (selling) them at the conclusion of the Conference.

What you can do:

  • At IMGC:

    • Carry your reusable water bottle with you every day.
    • Put all compostable and recyclable materials in the designated bins.
    • Return any unwanted items from your Welcome Bag to the Swap Table.
  • At home:

    • “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”
    • Repair what you have or buy used before buying new.
    • Share infrequently used items with a friend.
    • Donate, swap, or sell unwanted items rather than throwing them away.
    • Buy products made from sustainable materials and with no or minimal packaging. Avoid plastic packaging whenever possible.


The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. World Economic Forum, Jan 2016.

Greenberg, P. The Climate Diet, p.27

The Pacific Institute, Bottled water & Energy Fact Sheet, 2007.

Janssen, G. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — In That Order.”