We all know the recycling plastics, glass and paper in our home and office is good for the environment, however some products are not accepted in our local recycling collection. Considering the important role recycling plays in reducing our carbon footprint and limiting the amount of landfill that we produce, we may often wonder why we can’t recycle all plastic containers.
There are a number of reasons as to why some plastics are accepted and others not and as processes and technologies improve, this is becoming increasingly less problematic. However, by understanding what can and cannot be recycled and the best way in which to go about recycling products, we can all make a difference to increase the amount of recycled plastic and reduce waste.
One of the main issues with plastics recycling is that different products are made from different types of plastic. Each plastic needs to go through varied recycling processes and therefore they must be sorted into their different plastic groups.
A good example of this is plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are the most commonly recycled product as they are easy to sort and economically viable for most recycling companies. The caps on bottles, however, are made from a different type of plastic and therefore need to be sorted from the recycling process.
Many yoghurt pots are not currently recyclable except for those that are made from PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastics – the same plastics used in bottles. Some yoghurt pots are made from polystyrene which can collect food residue and need to be thoroughly cleaned before recycling.
Few plastic films are currently recyclable as they are difficult to separate during the recycling process. This also applies to plastic bags, however there is now an increasing market for plastic carrier bag recycling.
Help make recycling easier
Wash all items before placing them in your recycling bin to help reduce the amount of processing that needs to happen when they reach the recycling factory. Remove all plastic films and bags before recycling. And think of new and innovative ways to reuse plastic pots such as storing paper clips, jewellery or using as plant pots.