6 Interesting Facts about Plastic Recycling That May Surprise You

Did you know that for many people, “going green” starts with the recycle label and stops at a recycle bin? There are caveats to the recycling industry and myths that have followed the industry for years.  Following are some of the interesting facts associated with plastic recycling that you should be aware of:

  1. Recyclers want your plastic caps and lids

That’s right—plastic caps and lids typically are made with the same recyclable plastic as milk jugs (high-density polyethylene or HDPE). Thanks to advances in plastics recycling, you can simply put those plastic caps and lids back on their bottles and containers before you toss them in the recycling bin—they’ll be separated for recycling later.

  1. All plastic products cannot be recycled

Some plastic items that are not recyclable easily are plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, and coffee cups unless you have a special gadget to do so. It is also not easy to recycle keyboards unless it is separated and sent to a specific recycling centers.

  1. There are more than 20,000 places in the U.S. to recycle plastic bags/wraps

And your curbside recycling bin isn’t one of them. Instead, plastic bags and wraps can be taken to recycling bins in front of more than 20,000 U.S. grocery and retail stores. This includes bags for groceries, bread, food storage (even the sealable ones), and dry cleaning, plus shipping pillows and wraps for beverage cases and more. Just make sure they’re clean and dry. Even though lots of people are surprised to learn about recycling bins at stores, in 2016 we recycled 1.3 billion pounds of bags/wraps!

  1. It is not possible to recycle coffee cups

Do you feel good after finishing your cup of cappuccino and throwing your cup in a recycle bin? It is definitely as simple as you may feel.  Although the external part of your innocuous looking coffee cup is manufactured with paper, a layer of plastic is present in its inside. The Polypropylene or PP film keeps the liquid protected so that it does not seep into the paper and burn your fingers. Also, it keeps your favorite beverage warm.

As there are two distinct materials in these cups, it is not possible to recycle them unless one separates the materials. It is not possible to do so by using hands and needs a special machine. Plus, that is the reason why items manufactured from only one material are the simplest products to recycle. A water bottle, which is made of 100 percent plastic, is a key instance of this.

  1. Robots and machines are doing more plastics recycling work

While many recycling facilities still sort plastics by hand, more and more recyclers are using impressive new technologies to help make plastics recycling more efficient, such as:

  • A robot that recognizes logos and images and sorts plastic packaging at super-human speeds.
  • A machine that efficiently removes labels from plastic bottles while keeping the valuable plastics intact.
  • An infrared laser that detects different plastics for sorting and recycling.
  1. Markets and government policies dictate recycling policies.

It is imperative to know that the process of recycling is ascertained by two major things. These are the government policies and the market viability.  When there is an adequate market for recycled products in the market, businesses and recyclers will definitely pay you for your recyclables.

On the other hand, if there is inappropriate or less demand in the market, such reusable products are practically useless. It would not make much of a difference if you put them in a recycle bin when you are unable to earn from them.

We all know we need to do more and knowing the in’s and out’s of recycling will make our intentions that much more impactful. Write your congressperson, recycle properly (your sanitation person will appreciate it) and take the extra steps that the results match the intentions.  Stay kind to planet earth, she’s all we got.

These tips and advice come from Fit N Seal, a product line that is focused on bringing a practical green solution to market with the goal of reducing plastic consumption.