Most people want to dispose of their waste plastics responsibly. The biggest factor affecting recycling rates is the lack of facilities. Where there are no facilities – plastic goes to landfill. Where facilities are introduced, the amount getting buried drops. All modern plastic items have a stamp on them indicating what category of plastic they fall into. There are seven categories. Let’s take a look at each and see how easy they are to dispose of.
1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Plastic drinks bottles are nearly all manufactured from PET. This is a highly recyclable material and 94% of UK councils will now collect PET plastic bottles either from your doorstep or from recycling centres.
2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
HDPE is the more rigid plastic that is used for bottles containing substances such as bleach, shampoo and detergents. Products made from HDPE are not biodegradable but they can be recycled for use in plastics manufacture. Oil is an ingredient in manufacturing plastic that can be replaced by recycled HDPE.
3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC can be rigid or flexible. In its rigid state, it can be turned into window frames and bank cards. The flexible version can be used to replace leather in clothes and shoes or as insulation for electrical wiring. Both states can be reduced to their component chemicals and turned into more PVC.
4. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Plastic bags and six pack rings are made from LDPE. These two items are often cited as the most polluting plastic products – turning up in the ocean where they cause havoc to the ecosystem. Although LDPE is recyclable – just 5% of what is produced gets recycled. A greater recognition of plastic types and facilities for their separation and disposal could improve this figure.
5. Polypropylene (PP)
Polypropylene has a high softening point, so it is often chosen for containers that will house hot drinks. You don’t want your coffee to melt your cup. Less than 1% of PP gets recycled.
6. Polystyrene (PS)
Famously difficult to recycle. One common secondary use for Polystyrene is to shred it into tiny balls and use it as cavity wall insulation.
7. Everything Else
Some common plastics that fall into this category are Polyactide – used in 3D printing – and polycarbonate which is used in roofing. The fact that everything is a bit mixed up in this category means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to recycling plastics stamped with a number 7. Most types can be turned into ‘plastic lumber’ which can be used in the construction industry.
At Coda Plastics Ltd, we consider plastic to be a fantastic resource material. We recycle our own plastics and we even take in plastic from other manufacturers and recycle that. If you would like your product developed and manufactured by a company with a responsible approach to plastics recycling, please get in touch. You can call us on +44 1692 501 020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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