Plastic is incredibly well-designed. If anything, it’s too well-designed as it sticks around for a long time after it’s discarded. That’s why it’s important that we recycle as much of it as possible.
In this guide, we’ll explain why companies use plastic so much, where it goes when it’s recycled, and even give you some tips on how to get the most out of your plastic.
Why Do We Still Use Plastic?
As much harm as plastic currently causes, it’s simply too useful to give up for many industries. It’s light, easy to shape, difficult to break, relatively contamination-proof and very cheap. This leaves it almost irreplaceable for many businesses involved in medicine, packaging, cars and a huge amount of other fields.
For that reason, relying less on plastic is a case of cutting use wherever it’s not needed, and recycling wherever it is needed.
How Is Plastic Recycled?
The process of recycling plastic is relatively simple. Once the materials reach the facility, they are:
- Sorted into different types of plastic to avoid contamination.
- Resized into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Washed of dirt and other contaminants.
- Separated into thicker and thinner plastics, which melt at different temperatures.
- Melted down and turned into pellets for shipping.
Different Types Of Plastic
The reason these plastics are separated into different types is because they’re used for different purposes. Here are the 7 main kinds:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE). This is used primarily for packaging food and drink.
- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE). This is used for things like carrier bags, computer parts and bin bags.
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This is a less flexible version of LDPE, used for items such as bottles of milk and shampoo.
- Polypropylene (PP). This is used for many consumer products, including toys, containers and car parts.
- Polystyrene (PS). This is used primarily for packaging and disposable cups, and unfortunately isn’t recyclable.
- Vinyl (V). This is used for plumbing pipes, food wrapping and detergent bottles. Also not recyclable.
Other plastics have a number of other uses but will likely be unrecyclable too. That being said, there’s always new, greener alternatives being designed- namely bioplastics, which emit far less greenhouse gases over their lifetime than other types.
Plastic And The Environment
Plastic creation is at an all-time high, which has a massive impact on the environment. Half of all plastics ever made have been made in the last 15 years (with the other half likely being in our oceans), and the amount we’re making has gone from 2.3 million tons in 1950, to 448 million tons in 2015. This 2015 level of production is expected to double by 2050, so this is a trend that needs to be bucked.
By creating less and recycling more plastic, businesses can pull down this number. This will reduce carbon emissions, save energy, retain fossil fuels and stop more waste from harming wildlife.
How Can I Recycle Plastic Better?
There’s a number of general good practices you can get into the habit of, which will make recycling easier and more effective:
- Wash out everything. This reduces the chance of contamination.
- Squashing bottles saves you space and also makes it easier for the facility to sort them, as they’re not rolling around on the conveyor belt.
- Reusing is better than recycling. Try using reusable water bottles and tupperware instead of single-use plastic.
- Stock up your business’s kitchen with plates and cutlery for this reason.
- Use a dedicated dry-mixed recycling (DMR) bin to make separating contaminants easier.
- FInd a waste management company who won’t dump it all on a landfill site.
If you’d like to find a green supplier who can provide you with a DMR bin, you can get a free no-obligation quote here: