Plastic Recycling 101: Answers to Questions
Plastic recycling bins are available all around us, from public spaces to our homes, making recycling an easy practice. You likely toss many of your recyclable trash items into these bins without giving much thought about the journey your garbage will take.But have you ever thought about where it goes after it is collected? The truth is, many of your recycled waste products will take an important journey, some even circling back around into other products you will buy. Here are some basic questions and answers regarding the recycling process and how it impacts our world.
Where does my recycling go?
The recycling journey begins at your recycling bin. The items collected are taken to sorting centers where they are cleaned and sorted before being converted into raw materials for remanufacturing. Companies like Microdyne Plastics, a plastics manufacturer in Southern California, can sometimes use these materials to make a variety of American made products.
Does it really matter if I recycle or not?
The idea that the trash we generate simply “goes away” or becomes the problem of “someone else” after it is collected is far from true. Most of our trash contributes to the reduction in the health quality of the global environment because it isn’t recycled. Instead of being collected for reuse to manufacture a range of products (from bottles to fencing to carpeting), about 91% of plastic trash is thrown away. The potential for landfills to create health and economic problems has been a major factor in government regulations put into place. On the other hand, recycling is one way to ensure that landfill and pollution issues are avoided. Even our natural resource consumption is reduced just by recycling. For example, every ton of plastic bottles recycled saves about 3.8 barrels of oil
Will it really make a difference if I increase my recycling?
When it comes to recycling, every bit really does help. Manufacturers like Microdyne Plastics, Inc. in Southern California create high demand for much more of the raw materials generated by recycling than are actually available. Part of the reason why so little of the materials are available for reuse, is because such a high amount of our used plastic products are tossed into waste bins that are headed for the local landfill. By simply becoming more aware of our recycling habits, we can help contribute to plastics manufacturers who turn these reusable materials into many of the products we use every day.
The waste that is collected into landfills does not just simply “go away” or biodegrade back into the earth.Researchers at the University of Arizona’s Garbage Project concluded that, “Under normal landfill conditions, in which…the landfill is kept relatively dry, the only types of garbage that truly decompose are certain kinds of food and yard waste.”
Recycling more does not take a lifestyle change.
In fact, there are many things you can do with little to no more effort it takes to throw your recycling into the regular trash.
Here are some tips to help increase your recycling habits:
- Be part of the recycling loop – purchase items made from recycled materials.
- Buy local products. It cuts down on fuel to transport and supports our local community.
- Find out where your local recycling centers are by visiting your community’s website.
- In addition to milk jugs and beverage bottles, remember to recycle all bottles. This includes everything from shampoo to salad dressing.
- Don’t just recycle your bottles. Plastic can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from packaging materials to plastic bags. Think about how all packaging can be reused.