Why Recycling Plastic Is So Important.
We all know we should recycle. But did you know recycling your plastic also saves energy? For example, recycling a single plastic bottle could conserve enough energy to light a 60 W light bulb for up to 6 hours.*
Recycling plastic helps save waste too as well as energy. Not only that, but plastic can be recycled into other things, a pair of jeans, for example, includes an average of 8 recycled plastic bottles. It’s easy to see why recycling can be so important.
What Do Plastic Recycle Symbols Mean?
To help you know what you can recycle, each plastic container or bottle has a symbol from 1-7. These symbols provide information on how toxic, biodegradable and safe the plastic can be. We have put together this simple guide to help you identify your everyday recyclable plastics. Make sure you check with your local authority regarding recycling your plastics and what is excepted.
PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
Plastic #1 is typically clear in appearance and used mainly in water bottles as well as salad dressing or peanut butter containers, often picked up by curbside collection. Considered a safe plastic, it can be recycled into polar fleece, furniture, carpets,tote bags, fibre among others.
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
Plastic #2 is typically opaque in appearance and used mainly in household containers like milk, juice bottles, yoghurt, butter and toiletry tubs. This can also be picked up from your curbside collection. Considered a safe plastic, it it is recycled into pens, picnic tables, fencing, timber, benches among others.
V or PVC (Vinyl)
Plastic #3 is typically used to make food wrap and packaging, detergent, cooking oil bottles, medical equipment and plumbing pipes. It is very rarely collected at curbside. Considered a not so safe plastic but it can be recycled into flooring, speed bumps, roadway gutters, panelling among others.
LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)
Plastic #4 is typically found in most squeezable bottles, shopping bags, clothing, frozen foods, bread bags and some food wraps. Not many curbside collectors include this but more are starting to. Strongly considered a safe plastic, it can be recycled into bins, bin liners, floor tiles, panels, envelopes among others.
Plastic #5 is typically found in most ketchup, syrup and medicine bottles. It is usually picked up by curbside collectors. Strongly considered a safe plastic, it can be recycled into brooms, pallets, traffic light, car battery cases, bicycle racks among others.
Plastic #6 is typically found in compact disc cases, egg cartons, meat trays, disposable plates and cups. It is considered notoriously difficult to recycle and there are not any recycling programs that do. However, it can be recycled into egg cartons, vents, foam, insulation, among others.
Plastic #7 are all the other plastics that do not fit into the first 6, under this umbrella; sunglasses, ipod cases and nylon. These plastics are a mixed bag in terms of recycling. When it is possible to recycle these they are usually recycled into custom made products.
Landfill waste & our environment
Estimates put plastic consumption at 1.2 million tonnes in the UK alone. Only a third of this is actually recycled. Landfill sites (dumps or tips) used to bury and dispose of our waste are ever growing, making landfill space a big problem. Slow decomposition rates means many acres of land are being rendered useless because of the years needed to decompose all of the waste. Recycling can therefore make a huge difference to the environment and help reduce landfill waste sites.
Recycling our plastic glasses is easy
There are three reasons why plastic glasses are easy to recycle. One: they are not coloured - c olour added to plastic cannot be removed so it isn’t recyclable. Two: they are clean - unlike other plastics, like food packaging, they are relatively uncontaminated. Three: they are made from a single material - disposable plastic glasses are lumps of pure, food-grade plastic of a single type (usually either type 1, 5, or 6).