We live in a plastic world filled with transportation vehicles, appliances, toys, water bottle, medical devices and a wide range of consumer goods made with plastic. Millions of items are made with one or more types of plastic, and manufacturers continue to crank out more plastic gadgets for people to buy. The abundance of plastic eventually ends up littering landfills and oceans. Plastic and other garbage collects in large clusters floating on the ocean's surface and this alone greatly affects surrounding sea life by disrupting ocean habitat. Animals can also die after getting stuck in plastic wrapping and other materials or by ingesting it. Recycling can help lessen the environmental burden that plastic puts on the planet, so it is vital to make recycling plastic a priority.
Plastic Recycling Facts
The need to recycle is great as people continue to buy bottled water and other goods made with plastic. Thankfully, the plastic recycling business has grown dramatically as people have become more aware of the benefits of recycling to their own environment. The word continues to spread as more companies promote recycling campaigns through aggressive advertising. In the United States the number of plastic recycling companies has almost tripled, and these businesses continue to grow. Now more than 1,600 companies are recycling post-consumer plastics. People are also making an effort to recycle more than just plastic bottles. In 2007, 325 million pounds of wide-mouth plastic containers were collected for recycling. These containers included items such as yogurt cups, deli condiment containers and other food containers.
Many grocery stores also collect plastic bags for recycling. Grocery stores promote the sale of cloth “green bags” and more people are starting to use these environmentally friendly bags, rather than getting plastic. Companies also encourage customers to use paper for bagging their groceries. Paper products degrade into the environment within a few months, so it’s more environmentally friendly than plastic.
The University of Chicago: Recycling Directory
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: What can be Recycled?
Harvard University: Common Myths about Recycling
American Chemistry Council: Plastics Recycling in 4 Simple Steps
Sprint Recycling: Recycling Facts
How to Recycle Different Types of Plastics
All types of plastic resin are recyclable, however, not all recycling centers accept all plastics from consumers. Plastic bottles, bags, packaging and other materials are almost always accepted. Other materials made with certain types of plastics or a combination of plastic and wax may not be accepted by all recycling companies. Some items that may not be accepted are the lining of a cat food bag or certain plastic toys. Call your local recycling company and ask them what types of plastics they accept.
Separate different types of plastics, so workers can easily go through it after it arrives at the recycling facility. It might be easier to set up different containers at home for various products that you plan on recycling. You can develop an organized system that makes it easier to recycle various types of plastics and other products. You can always call the manufacturer directly if you aren't sure if certain products are recyclable. Some plastic toys may not be recyclable because the products are made with a variety of different materials. And all recycling centers ask that you please clean all food and drink containers prior to placing them in your recycling bin.
Plastic bottles contain a triangular arrow with a code in the center that reveals what type of plastic the bottle is made out of. This code reveals if the bottle is made with one or many types of plastics. The six main types of plastics listed are (#1) polyethylene terephthalate, (#2) high density polyethylene, (#3) vinyl/polyvinyl chloride, (#4) low density polyethylene, (#5) polypropylene and (#6) polystyrene. If you see (#7) that means the plastic is made from multiple resins and other materials, and some recycling companies won’t accept plastics with this code. The majority of plastic bottles are recyclable, so you shouldn't run into any problems. Cheaper soft plastic bottles are generally made with a combination of different types of plastics.
Recycling plastics greatly impacts the environment in a number of ways. The process of recycling materials saves energy because it takes more energy to create new materials from scratch than it does to recycle old material. Saving energy helps the atmosphere by creating less greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic made within the United States is comprised of 70 percent domestic natural gas and recycling preserves this natural resource.
In addition, recycling reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. It can take thousands of years for plastic to naturally break down, so keeping these materials out of landfills is extremely beneficial to the environment. Recycling 1 ton of plastic material conserves 7.4 cubic yards of space within landfills. Various types of recycled plastics can be used to create all sorts of products such as food packaging, jacket linings, carpeting and other necessary household products.
Louisville Kentucky: Know the Benefits of Recycling
University of Massachusetts: Environmental Benefits of Recycling
United States Environmental Protection Agency: Communicating the Benefits of RecyclingPDF Washington State Department of Ecology: Focus on the Benefit of RecyclingUniversity of Leicester: Why Should We Recycle: The Benefits
Stanford University: Environmental Benefits of Recycling