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5 Easy Tips for More Efficient Plastic Recycling

Posted by Hedwin on October 6, 2017

Allowing for great versatility across a wide range of applications, the use of plastic goods has skyrocketed over the past 50 years. In fact, more than 300 million tons of plastic goods are produced and circulated throughout the world each year. Luckily, most forms of plastic can be recycled, and in the United States alone, there are nearly 2,000 organizations dedicated to reclaiming post-consumer plastics. Over 80% of Americans have reasonable access to a recycling program, and various efforts are underway to increase this number.

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A highly energy-efficient process, plastic recycling can turn used plastics into ready-to-use materials using 88% less energy than is required to create new plastics from oil and gas. A wide range of eco-friendly products can be made from these recycled plastics, from residential housing insulation to protective gear for police officers and firefighters.

Although Americans recycle over 2.4 billion pounds of plastic every year, it still makes up about 13% of the total waste stream. To help ensure your consumer recycling efforts are as effective as possible, we’ve outlined five easy tips to keep in mind throughout your day-to-day routines.

1. Examine the identification codes on plastic containers.

Many plastic containers can be recycled, but be sure to check the plastic resin code, which can usually be found stamped on the bottom of a container. These codes will tell you what type of plastic the item is made out of — #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate), #2 HDPF (high-density polyethylene), #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), #4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene), #5 PP (polypropylene), #6 PS (polystyrene), or #7 for blends or plastics not readily recyclable, such as polyurethane. Generally, #1 and #2 items can be recycled in your usual curbside or apartment-building recycling bins, but different regions and municipalities have different regulations for the types of plastics that can be recycled. Check your local recycling website or get in touch with the proper authorities to receive all necessary information.

2. Keep the caps on.

Most plastic bottle caps and lids are made from polypropylene plastic (#5) and can be recycled along with the bottles. These recycled caps can then eventually be made into various products, including storage bins, car parts, and shipping pallets. Because the caps melt at different temperatures than the bottles (which are usually made of plastic #1 or #2), consumers used to be asked to remove the caps before recycling; but processes have advanced over the years, and now caps can be included with regular recycling. Again, different municipalities have different regulations, so be sure to check for specific guidelines if you’re unsure.

3. Crush containers to help save space.

Most plastic bottle caps and lids are made from polypropylene plastic (#5) and can be recycled along with the bottles. These recycled caps can then eventually be made into various products, including storage bins, car parts, and shipping pallets. Because the caps melt at different temperatures than the bottles (which are usually made of plastic #1 or #2), consumers used to be asked to remove the caps before recycling; but processes have advanced over the years, and now caps can be included with regular recycling. Again, different municipalities have different regulations, so be sure to check for specific guidelines if you’re unsure.

4. Recycle on the go.

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Try to remain conscientious about recycling even when out of the house or office. Seek out public recycling bins for all used plastic items, and if recycling isn’t available, hold on to the containers until you find a proper receptacle. In particular, outdoor events — such as festivals, picnics, and tailgating parties — often result in large amounts of litter, with some sports stadiums producing as much as 100 tons of waste per game, so make an effort to keep track of your bottles and other containers.

5. Shop for recycled products.

Keep an eye out for recycled plastic products when shopping; many eco-friendly goods will have labels stating the percentage of the product that was made from post-consumer recycled material. Opting for recycled goods, rather than products made from raw materials, allows for a smaller consumer footprint and helps support sustainable, environmentally focused brands. These post-consumer goods conserve important natural resources, reduce waste, and encourage individuals and business to keep up with shifting trends.

Learn More

As plastic use continues to rise, recycling is more important than ever. Here at Hedwin, our team is committed to providing high-quality, eco-friendly plastic packaging solutions. Versatile and cost-effective, our packaging products are used in a wide range of industries, including medical, industrial, chemical, and food and beverage. To learn more about our sustainable plastic packaging options or discuss how you can improve your recycling efforts as a consumer or a business owner, reach out to the team today.

Contact Hedwin Today >>

Topics: environmentally-friendly packaging, eco-friendly packaging, Packaging Solutions, plastic recycling tips

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