Plastic plays a very important role in our modern life and you’ll find much of our world is full plastic. As it is difficult to break down under natural conditions, plastic recycling is much more necessary and important than ever. Everyone has a responsibility to know how to recycle plastic to reduce the impact which plastic have on our environment. The following basic facts about plastic recycling can help you know the steps.
Reasons to Recycle Plastic
It is estimated that about 10% of the waste stream in the USA is plastic waste. Most plastic are made using petrochemical products like natural gas. Therefore, the more plastic is used, the more petroleum products are needed. Thus cause much more serious pollution problems.
Take plastic for example. In 1976, the average American only drank 1.6 gallons of bottled water per year. However, in 2008, this figure leaped to 28.3 gallons a year. Another fact is that about only 25% of these plastic bottles are recycled. Every year we need much landfill space to deal with these 75% plastic bottles. It is estimated that 1 ton of plastic needs 7 cubic yards of landfill space. Therefore, recycling plastic is necessary.
Plastic Recycling Sorting
If you are a serious person, you’ve noticed the numbered recycling symbols on plastic items. Well, what do these numbers mean? They actually specify the type of plastic is used to make up this item. It also means how we can reuse it. For example, No.2 means the symbol for HDPE (high-density polyethylene). HDPE is durable and tough and it can be recycled to produce other products like plastic lumber.
Generally, there are a total of 7 different numbers which are used to identify the type of plastic resin. These numbers are useful, because these numbers are used to sort plastic during the recycling process.
Recycling Plastics vs ‘Downcycling’ Plastics
If plastic are recycled, they cannot be used to make the same products, because they are downcycled. This feature is different from metals. The downcycled plastic is used to make a lower quality form of plastic. Therefore, during the recycling process, it is not a reverse process. The only thing we can do is to try to not use them or use them seldom.
Many products are made from recycled plastics because they are cheap. The list includes toys, plastic lumber, car parts, clothing fibers, tables, railroad ties etc. The bad thing is that the recycling process cannot go far.
Finally, most of these products made from recycled plastic cannot be recycled any more, and become garbage on the earth.
Problems with Recycling Plastics
The recycling process is not green at all, because it needs more energy and labor and finally the recycled plastic products become a mainly sources of pollution. So even you think you’ve sorted your plastic bottles and recycle them, you cannot change the destiny. We should reduce the use of plastic products or use one for a long time.