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We don’t need any introduction to the alarming levels of plastic waste generated in the world. The numbers are increasing rapidly and by the year 2030, plastic production is expected to go up to a whopping 40%. With many companies like us taking initiatives to curb the amount of plastic waste and increase plastic recycling, the continuous production in the plastics is only going to make our aspirations more difficult. But what can you, as a person living on this plant, do?
Well, for starters, you can stop using any more plastic items as much as possible and recycle the plastics you already have. If you are new to this topic of plastic recycling, then read on more to know about what exactly is plastic recycling, the types of plastics for recycling and some tips for you.
As you are aware, plastics are around us everywhere and have become an essential part of our lives. But this plastic is doing more harm than good for every living creature on this planet. We can attribute so many reasons for recycling plastic waste and here are a top few.
Let’s start with the important fact that no one knows exactly how long it will take for the plastic waste to break down. Though many have some theories and some figures close to 500 years or so, there is no sure way to know unless we practically see it happen. Since plastic itself was invented within the last 100 years, we cannot know how long this waste is going to lie still in the environment damaging all kinds of resources and living things on this planet.
By ecosystem, we mean the natural resources we have, the food chains, the living creatures on this planet. As plastic pollution keeps increasing every single year, not to mention at an alarming rate, it’s not just occupying the space in the landfills but is also harming the environment.
It affects the water ground level, messes with the plant growth and pollutes the atmosphere when it gets burned. There are so many more implications of the harm plastic waste does for aquatic life, humans, birds and animals.
Among the solid waste in the world, the plastic waste constitutes about 12% of the total waste generated which comes down to about 30 million tons of plastic that gets disposed every single year. The numbers are increasing every year as plastics find its way for more applications in our everyday lives.
Since the plastic waste gets dumped together with the other solid waste in the landfills, it can even hamper the other kinds of waste from decomposing. The landfills were originally created to dump the waste in these areas with the idea that the waste will decompose and soon will make way for new waste to get dumped. But as the plastic waste doesn’t decompose, it occupies a lot of space and has, in turn, made the countries look for new dumping areas.
The plastic waste is dumped in landfills and oceans. Now, these waste split into microplastic waste which then gets its way into the food we eat and the water we drink. In fact, microplastics have been found in many rivers and lakes in Britain according to new research conducted just a year back.
In a study conducted in 2017 by collecting water samples from all the five continents, almost 83% of it was found to be contaminated with plastics. With plastics already finding its way into our systems, the amount of plastics we consume inadvertently is only going to increase if we don’t put a stop to it. This will lead to serious health complications, new diseases and reduce the efficacy of the immune system in the next generations.
Actually, different recycling companies recycle different types of plastics. There are some plastic varieties that are easy to recycle and are done by most recycling companies whereas some plastics are difficult to recycle and this is the reason why they accept only certain kinds of plastics.
Remember this triangle symbol that you will see on all plastic items? Well, the number inside the triangle denotes the type of plastic depending on which the recycling companies will check if the plastic can be recycled at their facility.
There are seven main types of plastics based on the number denoted.
1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
2. High-density polyethylene (HDP)
3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
4. Low-density polyethylene (LDP)
7. Other plastics include acrylic, polycarbonate, etc.
The first one, PET, and second one, HDP can be recycled. The third one, PVC aren’t intended for recycling though they can be repurposed. PVC shouldn’t be reused for keeping eatables or for the use of children, diseased and the elderly. The fourth one, LDP, can be recycled although not many recycling plants support the recycling of low-density polyethylene. However, it can be reused.
The fifth one, polypropylene can be recycled but again, not many recycling plants do it due to the cumbersome process. But you can reuse this plastic safely. The sixth one, polystyrene is also difficult to recycle and therefore, you can hardly find any recycling units accepting it. It is also said to be a human carcinogen and therefore, it’s best to avoid using this type of plastic.
The last and final one contains the various other materials that make up the plastic. Since it contains an assortment of plastic materials, there are standardized regulations for reusing or recycling these plastics.
Most of the plastics that come under the last category may release toxic substances under changing environments and it’s best to keep a note of it.
There are certain regulations when it comes to recycling plastic waste. You can do your part by supporting the plants that are recycling the waste with these few actions:
These small plastic items like bottle caps, straws, plastic clips and so on will be rejected in the recycling machines and could again contribute to the waste. Therefore, put such small plastic items inside the big plastic waste like bottles, plastic containers, cartons, etc to ensure that all the plastic are fully recycled.
The bigger plastics or empty plastic waste takes a lot of place when recycling. Therefore, you crush the empty plastic bottles, plastic boxes and other similar stuff as small as possible when you are giving it out for recycling.
The food waste present in the plastic containers could contaminate the other types of waste they are recycling. Such contaminants could even result in distorting the property of the waste items and could make them unrecyclable. Such actions could make a significant dent on the amount of waste recycled and will increase the waste in the environment. So please make sure to wash the plastic items and remove all food particles when you are giving it for recycling.
We all know that the amount of plastic waste in this world has to be reduced. But talking about it is not doing any good. Let’s take small steps from our house. The next time you are giving out plastics to recycle, make sure to check if you are following all the tips and making the recycling process better.
We encourage you to curtail plastic items as much as possible. Even when you have to, check out the type of plastics it is made of and buy those that are recyclable. We advise you to verify the characteristics of the plastics you use for children and the elderly.
At Plastic Collectors, we work with the mission to reduce plastic waste in the world by encouraging plastic recycling. We are doing our part for this planet and if you are interested to join our initiative and contribute to reducing the carbon footprint, then please visit this page to know more details.