Philly Is Incinerating Its Plastics and It's Making Children Sick

Not too long ago, American cities knew exactly where they could send their recyclable waste — China. But now that's all changed.

In 2017, China announced it will no longer accept waste from abroad. That's created a problem here at home. American cities are now scrambling to find ways to dispose of the hundreds of thousands of recyclables we throw in the bin every day.

In my city of Philadelphia for example, 50% of the cardboard, paper, and plastic that I throw into the recycling bin, never makes it to the recycling plant. Instead, the city has resorted to the dated and dangerous method of incinerating recyclable waste. Waste like plastics which, when burned, give off toxic fumes containing dioxins, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and particulate matter all of which can cause serious health problems including cancer and asthma.

Luckily for my family, that trash isn't incinerated here in Philly where these toxic fumes could affect the health of my child. But that doesn't mean those fumes aren't poisoning the lungs of someone's baby somewhere.

For Philadelphia's trash, that somewhere is Chester, a majority African-American city of just 34,000. The city has what the HuffPost calls an "already alarming health situation." According to the online publication, 40% of children in Chester have asthma, and both lung and ovarian cancer rates are much higher than the state average. Yet it is here that Philly has decided to send its plastic to be burned.

I am fortunate enough not to live in a place, surrounded by smokestacks, where my eyes burn from toxic smoke. I am lucky that my family and I can breathe clean air. But just 30 mins down I-95, there are mothers and fathers that have to worry about it every day. I, for one, don't want to play any part in making someone else sick. I don't want my waste burned in someone else's backyard.

Philadelphia must find a better, more environmentally friendly way of disposing of our plastics and other recyclables because at the moment they are putting people's health at risk.

Please join me and ask Philly to do the right thing. Sign to tell Mayor Kenney to end plastic trash incineration in Chester.

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