If you live in a single family home in Pasadena, chances are that you think you can recycle all plastics. Why? Because our trash cans say you can in both English and Spanish.
By Cheryl Auger
But what we know from the CalRecycle Commission study is that only three plastic items are actually recycled throughout California, including:
- #1 PET bottles with narrow necks but not if they have shrink sleeves or other non-recyclable components.
- #2.HDPE natural bottles with narrow necks but not if they have shrink sleeves or other non-recyclable components.
- #2 HDPE color bottles with narrow necks but not if they have shrink sleeves or other non-recyclable components.
Also, just because it is recyclable, doesn’t mean there is a market for it. Most manufacturers prefer virgin plastic pellets or white pellets so the majority of plastics with pigments such as Tide and Gain containers won’t have a buyer.
Most plastic is not recyclable
At this point you might realize that most of the plastic you use every day is not recyclable. Not the cover on your coffee cup. Not the bag you pay for at the grocery store. Not the candy wrapper and definitely not the polystyrene take-out containers nor even the black containers with the clear covers.
The Department of Energy said last year that in fact, only 5% of plastics are recycled in the U.S. That is not a surprise since we have not invested in recycling infrastructure and plastic materials have become more complex. It has been cheaper to send our plastic to third world countries since the cargo ships would normally return empty. Families sift through the waste for recyclable materials, but unfortunately they have the same problem. Only a small fraction of the materials are recyclable so mounds of trash grow everywhere. Now there are seven types of plastic but only three of them are recyclable on mass scale, #1 PET, #2 HDPE, and #5 PP.Because there is so much variation, it is hard to gather enough of these three material types with the same color to bale.
Pasadena’s response was to tell everyone only to throw plastics made from resin #1 and resin # 2 in their recycling bins, but apartments and businesses don’t have recycling bins. We have a serious plastic crisis mounting worldwide.
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