Plastic Recycling Myths: Busted!

There was a time when there was no plastic – everything was made of wood or metal.  Then came the invention and mass use of plastic, that has pervaded virtually everything we use.  Even fasteners, long the domain of metal, are now being replaced by plastic – plastic screws and plastic hex bolts, and threaded rod are extremely popular, across dozens of industries.  The problem became that plastic products were simply thrown out with the rest of the trash. Unfortunately, plastics are non bio-degradable.

Today, plastic recycling industries have grown and evolved, and they’ve discovered new and more efficient ways to recycle plastic materials. However, recycling companies and recycling facilities cannot do it alone. They need the support of the community to encourage those around them to recycle.

Here’s some busted myths about plastic recycling.

Myth #1: Domestic markets are only interested in recycling bottles

Recycling efforts have grown to provide the public the ability to recycle different types of plastic products, not just bottles. The growing domestic capacity for tubs, films, and bulky plastics is meeting the public demand for increasing recycling options, often in single stream recycling containers, ‘recycling day’ events, and regular corporate recycling hauling. As companies partner with recycling companies and haulers to expand the variety of plastics recycled, they work to provide the option of recycling non-bottle material.

Grocery store recycling programs are designed to reclaim 350 million pounds of behind-the – store rigid plastic containers currently littering the streets and oceans. For example, the Foodservice Packaging Institute dedicates their work to providing recycling access to constitute recovery plastic and paper take-out containers.  Websites like Recycler Finder and www.recyclingcenters.org  can locate the closest facility next to you and provide you with access to recycling for your paper and plastics.

Myth #2: Plastic material gets down-cycled ONLY 

Most people see the true benefit of recycling is returning a trashed bottle to its original state again. Pepsi successfully met their goal in having over 10% recycled material in bottles, and others have been striving to improve upon this percentage.  The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has issued more than 150 letters accepting the use of recycled food-grade resin used in plastic bottles, for decades.

The larger factor is the recycled use of bottles for uses other than bottles. Instead of turning them back to their original state, they can be used to create automobile parts, plastic fasteners, carpets (and even fabric for Olympic uniforms!), to encourage people around the world to recycle to benefit not only themselves, but also their community. As people witness recycling as a manufacturing tool, not just as a useless material to pollute landfills, they  understand the competitive market resin that can supply material for any number of goods.

Another positive influence of recycling on the manufacturing industry is the number of jobs that can be produced from the addition of this technique. Perhaps we need to focus on increasing the rates of recycling participation, not self-loathing in environmental guilt.

Myth #3: It takes energy to recycle. 

Sure, everything takes energy – nothing can be created or destroyed without energy.  Fortunately, an inventory showed that each pound of recycled plastic used, energy use is reduced by 84 percent, and emissions are reduced by 71 percent. This study was recorded and charted for effective results by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the PET Resin Association (PETRA), and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR). So the more we recycle, the less energy we’ll be using in the long run.

Myth #4: The public interest cannot be swayed.

It’s often presumed that the limiting factor preventing the world from making a major change about the landfills and polluted waters is public apathy. This is not necessarily true. Observe the recycling environment and its availability before ruling the public as the main problem. Ready access, full-sized containers with clear representation of usage have positive results in boosting the volumes of material recycled. The public has been green-focused for the past two decades. The public has the will to recycle, but the container is often not in many parts of countries around the world. Improper marketing or presentation of what materials can be recycled is confusing and frustrating for those new to the trade.

The bin that the plastic material is to be recycled in should say what and how things go inside. In some communities, they make it super simple – everything goes into one recycle container, call ‘single stream recycling’.  From there, the recycling center and facilities quickly and efficiently separate plastic from other types of materials.

Thus, recycling must..

Evolve with the changes of technology and packaging, and also government and community leaders must continue to find ways to participate in making our world a cleaner environment to live in.