So what is plastic recycling? Let’s take a look below.
What is Plastic Recycling?
When we talk about plastic recycling, we’re talking about turning plastic waste into new plastic products.
By sorting and processing plastic waste, the recycling industry can restore plastic goods back to usable form. These plastics would otherwise go to landfill, where they can take over 400 years to break down.
After recycling, plastic goods emerge as pellets that manufacturers can use to create new goods from either wholly or partially-recycled materials. This extends the useable lifespan of plastic considerably.
Why Do We Recycle?
The advantages of plastic recycling are numerous.
Every time we produce synthetic goods, we enter into a long chain of processing and transportation. This can use a vast amount of energy and contributes to the carbon footprint of heavy industry.
Recycling also gives us a chance to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill — or worse, in the environment at large. Plastic pollutants aren’t just unsightly. They’re a threat to the animals they come into contact with. Plastic contamination of oceans and rivers may even pose a threat to humans in the long term.
What Can We Recycle?
There are many varieties of plastic, even though we use a blanket term to refer to them all. Of the many kinds of plastic, only some are fit for recycling.
It may sound like recycling can save us from a world of plastic, but 91% of all plastic is never recycled at all. Of that 91%, a vast amount is consumer-grade plastic that could go in household recycling bins.
Government and manufacturer initiatives are making it easier for consumers to know which plastics are recyclable. Most plastic packaging in the UK now contains recycling guidance.
Plastic Recycling Explained
We hope we’ve shed some light on the matter of plastic recycling. Educating yourself is one of the largest steps you can take toward doing your part to reduce the plastic threat. With a little knowledge, you can play your part in the recycling effort.
With all the hubbub around recycling,
it’s easy to focus on the process and lose sight of the purpose. While recycling was popular as recently as World War II, it took until the late 90s for the recycling of modern consumer goods to gain traction. But why is recycling so important? Why do we spend so much time and money to make it happen? Let’s look at a few key advantages of plastic recycling below.
We’re facing a plastic apocalypse. The same traits that make plastic such a useful material also make it an environmental disaster if we don't recycle it. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade in the same way that food waste or natural fibres do. This problem is most obvious in the ocean. Vast amounts of waste plastic end up in the ocean from industrial processes or by way of litter. Sir David Attenborough, among many others, are doing their best to bring attention to this mounting problem.
The majority of plastics are synthetic and derived from petrochemicals. As a general rule, the longer the manufacturing process for a material, the more energy it takes to produce. The energy cost of producing materials has grown into a large concern, as even modern nations face an energy deficit. By recycling plastic, we can extend the plastic supply without the intensive process of manufacturing from scratch.
The industrial processes involved in producing plastic also contribute to CO2 emissions, so recycling can reduce the industry’s impact on climate change.
The world’s population now stands at over 7 billion. Within the next generation or so, experts say it’ll rise to 9.8 billion . Humans are messy creatures. The creature comforts we enjoy in modern civilisation come at the cost of staggering amounts of waste. Any waste we don’t recycle will go to landfill if it isn’t burned for energy — which itself contributes to CO2 emissions. The conclusion is obvious: the more the population grows, the more land we’ll need to dedicate to burying waste. Land used to bury waste becomes unfit for human habitation, even decades after the closure of a landfill site.
Why the need of Plastic Recycling
are durable, lightweight and inexpensive materials. They
are able to be shaped and molded into a plethora of
shapes and sizes making them one of the most versatile
substances in the world. Every year, more than 100
million tons of plastic is manufactured across the
globe. Out of this, 200 billion pounds is newly
manufactured plastic being put into packages and
products after being thermoformed, foamed, or laminated.
Currently, about 50% of plastics are thrown away after
only one use and Americans use 2.5 million plastic
bottles every hour, which are just thrown away. Plastics
account for 10% of the total global waste and, since
they take hundreds of years to degrade, they are the
number one killer of seabirds and marine mammals. On
average, one million seabirds and 100,000 mammals are
killed by the small pieces of plastic floating in the
oceans. This, among other reasons, is why recycling is
so important. Producing plastic from recycled plastic
uses 88% less energy than producing new plastic and
about 9.1% of new plastic production is recycled in the
U.S. every year consisting of plastic packaging, plastic
durable goods, and other non-durable goods. This 9.1% is
small when compared to Europe who currently recycles 25%
of their produced plastics.