We all hear a lot about how much pollution, littered plastic waste is causing. We do our bit by putting the plastic waste from our homes in the recycling bins. This gives us the satisfaction that we have taken some action. But, have you ever wondered what happens to waste once you dispose of it? Or how does recycling work? The ideal answer would be –
- Step 1: separate plastic waste.
- Step 2: Put it in the “recycle bin”.
- Step 3: Job done.
Well, here to break it to you, that’s only right to an extent.
Recycling may sound easy to a lot of consumers but that is not how it works. There is much more to recycling than simply throwing waste in the recycle bins.
A lot of us are under the impression that putting plastic waste in recycling bins does our part. This helps us purchase products with a lot less guilt.
Consumers play a more important role than they are aware of. The condition we throw away waste and its shape is a key factor in determining its post-usage value and quality.
Here are some of the Six common assumptions about plastic waste recycling
1. Not all plastic waste is recyclable
Yes, you heard that right. There are 7 types of plastic and not all of them are recyclable.
Of which some are easily recyclable while some are difficult to or non-recyclable.
2. Plastic bags and straws difficult to recycle. Some are even non-recyclable.
Keyboards are not easily recyclable and need special conditions which are difficult to find.
Coffee cups also need special machines to recycle hence not many recycling machines available for that.
Also, recycling depends on the market and the government. When there is more demand for recycled products, there will be a need for recyclers and recycling plants to recycle post-consumer packaging.
In other words, if there is no demand for recycled products, there will be no point in putting plastic waste in the recycling bins. This plastic waste eventually ends up in landfills, illegal waste burning or incinerators.
3. Plastic differs from type to type
As mentioned above, plastic is divided into 7 types. They are classified from #1 to #7 to help easy identification.
Type #1 (PET) is easily recyclable and has the highest recycling value.
Type #7 includes non-recyclable plastic waste.
4. Most paper Cups have plastic in them
The outside of coffee cups is made with paper. And the inside is made of PP film to protect the coffee or liquid from leaking into the paper.
As there are 2 different types of material, it is difficult to recycle the waste. Unless there’s a machine that separates these materials easily.
Similarly, other food and beverage packaging materials also contain a PP or a wax layer due to which they become almost non-recyclable. Recycling them is expensive and time-consuming.
5. Dirty Plastic Waste is not Recyclable
Shocking isn’t it. Most of the consumers are not aware of the fact that only clean plastic waste is recyclable.
For example, pizza boxes, packaged food containers and large ketchup/grocery packets are not recycling worth if dirty. Hence, it is important to clean the plastic bags and packets before discarding them away.
6. Plastic Waste can be recycled 3 times
With every recycling, the quality of plastic decreases as the polymer chain grows shorter. Hence, one piece of plastic waste can be recycled 2 or 3 times before its quality reduces making it not suitable for recycling.
To address this issue, each time plastic waste goes for recycling, additional virgin plastic material is added to increase the quality.
In conclusion, plastic waste is not the problem, the way it is managed is. In this era, most everyday items we use contain plastic. After usage, disposing of plastic waste consciously help curb plastic pollution to a large extend. This is because it reaches the right hands and goes through proper recycling channels. proper way.