The Surprising Issue That Really Got John Oliver’s Goat This Week

The Four Percent


John Oliver busted open some of the biggest myths about recycling this weekend, including the fact that many of the everyday plastics people use aren’t recyclable in most places.

The “Last Week Tonight” host said while plastics production is increasing, less than 9 percent of U.S. plastics are recycled. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to recycle the rest.

Non-recyclable items turn up in recycling bins so often that waste managers have a name for it: wish-cycling, or things people simply wish could be recycled but can’t. 

“The term wish-cycling is just too good to be wasted on garbage,” Oliver said. “Wish-cycling sounds like a spin class taught by a unicorn, or the sewage treatment system at Hogwarts: ‘This, children, is where we wish-cycle all your collected urine into this delicious butterbeer.’” 

Oliver took a look at what happens to recyclables as well as what happens to the other 91 percent of plastics. There’s also a “horrific goat-man hybrid”:


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