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The Simplified Guide to Plastic Recycling

Plastic boasts exceptional design, yet its durability becomes a drawback when it lingers in the environment for extended periods after disposal. Hence, maximising plastic recycling is crucial.

This guide delves into the reasons behind extensive plastic use, the recycling process, and offers tips for optimising your plastic consumption.

Why Persist with Plastic?

Despite the environmental challenges, various industries cling to plastic due to its unparalleled utility. Its lightweight nature, malleability, durability, contamination resistance, and cost-effectiveness render it indispensable for sectors like medicine, packaging, automotive, and numerous others. The goal is to curtail unnecessary plastic use while emphasising recycling where essential.

The Plastic Recycling Process

The plastic recycling process involves several straightforward steps:

  1. Sorting: Plastics are categorised to prevent contamination.
  2. Resizing: Materials are reduced to smaller, more manageable pieces.
  3. Cleaning: Dirt and contaminants are washed away.
  4. Separation: Plastics are categorised by thickness, melting at distinct temperatures.
  5. Melting: The plastics are melted and transformed into pellets for shipment.

Varieties of Plastic

Plastics are classified into seven main types based on their distinct uses:

  1. PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Primarily used for food and beverage packaging.
  2. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): Found in carrier bags, computer components, and bin bags.
  3. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): A less flexible version used for items like milk and shampoo bottles.
  4. PP (Polypropylene): Utilised in consumer products such as toys, containers, and car parts.
  5. PS (Polystyrene): Mainly used in packaging and disposable cups but unfortunately not recyclable.
  6. V (Vinyl): Found in plumbing pipes, food wrapping, and detergent bottles, but not recyclable.

While other plastics serve various purposes, many are likely unrecyclable. However, ongoing developments, such as bioplastics with lower greenhouse gas emissions, offer more sustainable alternatives.

Plastic and the Environment

The surge in plastic production poses a significant threat to the environment. Half of all plastics ever made were produced in the last 15 years, with a substantial portion ending up in oceans. Plastic production skyrocketed from 2.3 million tonnes in 1950 to 448 million tonnes in 2015, with projections indicating a doubling by 2050. This trend necessitates a shift towards reduced production and increased recycling to mitigate carbon emissions, conserve energy, preserve fossil fuels, and safeguard wildlife.

Enhancing Plastic Recycling Practices

Adopting good recycling habits enhances effectiveness:

  1. Thorough Cleaning: Rinse items to minimise contamination.
  2. Bottle Squashing: Saves space and facilitates sorting at recycling facilities.
  3. Prioritise Reuse: Opt for reusable items like water bottles and containers.
  4. Dedicated Bins: Use Dry-Mixed Recycling (DMR) bins for easier separation.
  5. Choose Responsible Waste Management: Select a waste management company committed to environmentally friendly practices.

For those seeking eco-friendly suppliers with DMR bins, a no-obligation quote can be obtained here.