From starting our day squeezing dollops of face wash out of fancy plastic bottles to late-night takeaways in polythene carrying bags; there is no sphere of our life where we can separate plastic from our existence.
We are all surrounded by plastics everywhere and there’s not too much we can do to completely eradicate them. What we can do is to understand how to use them less and get them recycled properly when we do.
You need to know a few things about plastics and recycling to keep the former from living in the environment forever. Let’s go through them one-by-one.
Most of the plastic you add to the recycling cart is not recyclable
The greasy pizza boxes, lids of your plastic bottles, oven-safe dishes, straws, coffee cups and plastic cutlery, electronics, plastic wraps and bags, hardcovers of books are not designed to be recycled.
Also, only if there is demand in the market for your recyclables, a business company will be willing to pay for your post-consumer trash.
If there is no requirement for your to-be-recycled products in the market, the blue cart trash is most likely to end up in an incinerator or a landfill.
Additionally, it’s your local government’s responsibility to create market opportunities for recyclables.
Different plastics use different materials
There are different types of plastics: First is PET, for example, the plastic Bisleri bottles use PET for their manufacture. This kind of plastic comes with the highest recycling value.
Another kind is HDPE- the kind you use as your shampoo bottles. It can be recycled. The last one is mixed plastic, which can sometimes be recycled, but most of the time resists reprocessing.
It, therefore, remains a permanent waste in the landfills and even causes ocean pollution.
Most of these plastics are manufactured from crude oil, while the PLA plastics are made from starch and sugar.
Dirty plastic is non-recyclable
Your grease-soaked pizza boxes, supermarket-ready meal containers, and paper-plastic dinner takeaways which might contain food remnants from last night- are trash.
They hold the capacity to damage the recycle machine or contaminate the potent load of recyclables. So, before popping your refuse into the recycle bin, storm your brain into asking, if it’s clean enough to be recycled, or is it recyclable?!
Once the recycling cart reaches the plastic plant, the plastics are sorted according to the polymer they are made up of.
It’s carried out manually to ensure the removal of contaminants, but most of the time, non-recyclables are missed in this humongous load, and therefore, end up with the to-be-recycled pile.
After sorting, different types are then shredded, washed, melted to form pellets, and are finally cast into new products.
Uses of recycled plastic
When you recycle a plastic bottle, it’s less likely to become the identical one, rather, it can be used to make plastic sheets, films, clothes, carpets, irrigation pipes, car parts and whatnot.
The post-consumer plastic carrying bags you use for grocery shopping when recycled are moulded into plastic lumber which can further be used to make playground equipment.
The form packaging which protects your breakables can be turned into picture frames, insulation products etc.
No matter how content you feel ‘doing your bit’ while tossing your recyclables into the blue box, reducing and reusing should be your first commitment to the environment.