Knowing What’s Recyclable To Get You Started: Plastic Edition

Recycling may seem daunting, but we’re here to help you get started on your way to being a recycling champ with these few simple tips of what a recyclable is. Grab your pen and get ready to learn Peachers.

Sorting Through The Confusion

While people have become more environmentally conscious, companies have capitalized on our efforts to recycle more. Unfortunately, this means many companies have stretched the boundaries of what is “recyclable” to make their consumers feel better about buying their product. UGH. This only makes it more confusing to sort through the mess of what we can and can’t recycle. We wrote a whole other blog about this tricky topic of Why Recycling Isn’t Enough as not much of what we put into our blue bins gets recycled. So what is “recyclable”?

  • Accessibility: At least 60% consumer access to recycling facilities that accept the item

  • Sortability: Can be sorted by existing recycling infrastructure

  • End Markets: Sufficient market demand to convert material into another item

Resin Identification Codes: AKA The Chasing Arrows

Contrary to popular belief, just because a package has the chasing arrows doesn’t mean the package is automatically recyclable! The Society of the Plastics Industry only introduced the Resin Identification Code system to merely identify what plastic resin was used to make the product. If recycling wasn’t confusing already, it just got worse as there are seven resin identification codes. Therefore, depending where you live, some places accept more or less of the seven resin codes. Yet, people think they can recycle anything with the arrows. YIKES.

Plastic resins have their own unique properties that determine which product it will be produced for.

The Lesser Evil: PET vs. Polystyrene Food Containers

As carry out meals have grown popular with convenience and sanitary precautions with the pandemic, this has caused an array of plastic waste across the globe. From PET (clear plastic) and polystyrene (foam) food containers to plastic cutlery we are becoming buried in plastic. Here’s what you need to know to help. First off, if getting take out bringing your own container is obviously the best choice, but not always viable. If so, always choose PET containers over polystyrene as the foam ones can’t be recycled. As well, it’s important to know that hen recycling your PET containers ALWAYS wash them out before recycling them.

Another way to step up your recycling game is saying NO to plastic utensils. Plastic utensils are often too small to be sorted within recycling facilities leading to 40 billion utensils thrown each year. I know we all have a drawer full of utensils (left over plastic and regular ones) at home so why not use those! Places like LA are taking a stand on the unnecessary utensils by creating a cutlery by request ordinance for restaurants to save money and limit their waste. Pat yourself on the back LA!

How To Get Your Recyclables To The End Goal

Alright, ready for the kicker? Did you know by placing your carefully sorted recyclables (with the help of our tips) could all go to waste if you put them in a trash bag? The vast majority of recycling facilities won’t open them because they don’t know what’s inside of them and get sent straight to the landfill. Even the clear, plastic bags are often not accepted except for places like New York. Your best bet to successfully get your recyclables to their end goal is un-lining your recycle bins.

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