Why Most Plastic isn’t Getting Recycled
Plastic recycling is often praised for its positive environmental impact, but the reality can be disappointing. Less than 10% of the world’s plastic waste has been recycled, most ending up in landfills and the world’s oceans. According to a Greenpeace study, a few reasons for this is because plastic waste;
- poses excellent difficulty in gathering
- virtually impossible to sort for recycling
- causes environmental harm during the reprocessing phase
- made of and contaminated by toxic materials
- not economical to recycle
Comparatively, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that paper, cardboard, metal, and glass require less effort for recycling and are successfully processed at high rates.
While it is crucial, most recycling facilities’ current capacity needs to catch up with the amount and types of plastic we throw away. That’s why we must find quick solutions to tackle the massive plastic pollution problem worldwide!
What is Recyclable and Non-recyclable
Knowing which plastics cannot be recycled is crucial in choosing eco-friendly alternatives. Recycling plastic is not a one-size-fits-all process. While most plastics are recyclable, the effectiveness and frequency of recycling can vary widely between the seven different categories of plastics. Each plastic type requires unique machinery and processes, and some products can even pose hazards to recycling equipment, such as plastic bags and plastic packaging that easily jam.
Ever wondered what the numbers on the bottom of plastic products mean? They’re not just random digits. They’re a crucial part of the Resin Identification code, which categorizes plastic products based on their resin composition. Simply check the number at the bottom. If it reads #3, #6, or #7, it’s not recyclable. Knowing this can help you make informed decisions and minimize waste.
What to do with Plastic that Cannot be Recycled
Start by contacting your local recycling center to determine if they can recycle specific types of plastic. If not, explore free nationwide recycling programs offered by select centers. Some centers accept a variety of typically hard-to-recycle waste streams such as contact lenses, makeup products, e-waste, oral care products, cigarette waste, and more!