There is an abundance of information on recycling plastic but do you know what plastics can be recycled?
Know your Plastic
On most plastic jars, containers and other packaging of products you buy, you’ll find what’s generally accepted as the recycling logo with a number in the middle and sometimes letters underneath stamped into the plastic.
The recycling logo can be a little misleading – just about anything can be recycled, but sometimes not without major effort. It’s a little bit like extracting oil from under the ocean bed compared to extracting oil from tar sands; none of it’s really good as such, but some plastics are far, far worse than others.
Plastic codes are the numbers you find on the base of your shampoo bottle and the like.
They identify the type of plastic used to make the product.
Only the most common types of plastic are numbered – there are many more plastics than numbers and new plastics are being made all the time.
For recycling purposes, (for now at least), it is essential to know which plastic is which. All plastics should be properly identified. Here are the current plastic codes and what they refer to.
1 – PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate
The easiest of plastics to recycle. Often used for soda bottles, water bottles and many common food packages
2 – HDPE – High density Polyethylene
Also readily recyclable — Mostly used for packaging detergents, bleach, milk containers, hair care products and motor oil.
3 – PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
This stuff is everywhere — pipes, toys, furniture, packaging — you name it. Difficult to recycle and PVC is a major environmental and health threat.
4 – LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
Used for many different kinds of wrapping, grocery bags and sandwich bags and can be recycled into more of the same.
5 – PP – Polypropylene
Clothing, bottles, tubs and ropes. Can be recycled into fibres.
6 – PS – Polystyrene
Cups, foam food trays, packing peanuts. Polystyrene [also known as styrofoam] is a real problem as it’s bulky yet very lightweight and that makes it difficult to recycle. For example, a carload of expanded polystyrene would weigh next to nothing so there’s not a lot of materials to reclaim, particularly when you take into account the transport getting it to the point of recycling. It can however be reused.
7 – Other
Could be a mixture of any and all of the above or plastics not readily recyclable such as polyurethane. Avoid it if you can — recyclers generally speaking don’t want it.
To know more about plastics – Everything you ever wanted to know about plastic
To find out where you can recycle each kind of plastic, contact your waste disposal authority, or check TMBC. Some recycling plants will accept plastics from the public and are interested in bulk supply from anywhere.
But better still don’t create any plastic rubbish…..
More to come…