When throwing out the trash, we tend to put it in the recycling bin, hoping that somewhere, someone will handle it. Still, what is wrong with it?
This process is known as ‘aspirational recycling,’ and even though recycling is a vital instrument for managing the continually and seemingly unstoppable oceans of plastic flooding the planet, we should check some facts regarding it. Here are some of the items you probably didn’t know are unrecyclable.
- Coffee cups
The billions of disposable coffee cups thrown away each year are an example of items formed of several types of materials that are a nightmare for recyclers. The thin, plastic layering inside the cup may impede leakage, but it’s incredibly challenging to detach it from the paper cup. What this means is that the cups cannot be recycled as paper, nor as plastic, and ultimately are discharged in the landfill.
Coffee cup lids aren’t better either. Because of the low quality of the plastic, secondhand plastic buyers find them unattractive, and eventually, they shatter into unusable tiny pieces. It is best to get your own reusable coffee cup.
- Toothpaste tubes
These items are another difficult composite because even if the majority of the tubes are made of plastic, they can also include other elements such as aluminum. Tubes and also toothbrushes are made of different types of plastic combined, raising the difficulties of divide and processing of each kind of plastic separately.
The majority of curbside programs don’t even take oral care items, but new projects, for instance, a collaboration between Colgate and Terra Cycle, are accepting old tubes, toothbrushes, and floss for adequate processing.
- Food containers
An unnecessary and terrible thing is that fruit and vegetables, even though are pre-packaged in their own nutritious skins, are put to sale strapped or in plastic containers. What is even worse is the fact that the clamshells usually come in low quality and designed of different types of plastic containers. Takeout containers enter this category as well.
- Plastic bags
The disposable plastic bag bans all over California and New York are in function for some time, but even so, many are still found in the recycling system. Plastic bags are the worst nightmare for the planet because of the harm they cause at the recycling plant.
Disposable plastic bags rapidly degrade and can get stuck in expensive equipment. Mitch Hedlund, the founder of the not-for-profit Recycle Across America, says that recycling centers’ multimillion-dollar machines have to often shut off every half-hour because of plastic bags that get stuck into the instruments.
You should never throw the plastic bags to the curbside recycling bin unless your local recycler says otherwise. Also, you should not use them to throw your other plastics in them and then to your recycling bin.
- What the little arrows actually mean
Many people believe that the arrows formed as a triangle suggest that the item is recyclable, or it is composed out of recycled materials. However, there is no monitoring of how the icon is used, and the truth is that it is often improper used on packaging to make it seem recyclable when it is not.
Not every number found inside the arrows is recyclable. As a matter of fact, items with numbers 1 and 2, for instance, soda, shampoo, and laundry detergent package, have the most constant recycling markets. The other numbers, from 3 to 7, contain numerous of the plastic we mentioned above, such as coffee cup lids, and clamshell containers.
- Plastic can’t be recycled forever
One of the biggest misunderstandings is that plastic can be recycled into the same type of item over and over again. Most probably, plastic bottles are transformed into a product of not so much value, such as carpets, plastic lumber, and so on.
Plastic decreases in quality when it is recycled, and even though it is hard to know exactly how many times an item made of plastic will be recycled before will become worthless, experts say it may only be recycled once or twice the most. Furthermore, the unusuable plastic is landfilled, set on fire, or ends up all over the place.
Experts say there is only one solution to this mess created by plastic: produce and consume less plastic or at all.