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Plastic waste

5 reasons why the plastic Waste from your Bins Won’t get recycled.

It was only after the 1950s that the usage of plastic was doubled. With the evolution of this material, now plastic products are easily traceable on our shelves too. But to serve our needs is only half of the journey plastic has covered. After the product is used and we are about to discard the used plastic, major concerns start arising. 

Unlike glass or metals, plastic recycling comes with greater challenges. To initiate the recycling process, products are segregated with materials having alike chemical structures or properties. It was only in 1988 that specifying SPI codes on plastic products was made mandatory to ease out with the segregation process. After the segregation, the material is cleaned and melted to form pallets which are then re-molded to serve various purposes.

But it’s not as easy as it seems. The majority of plastic products from our bins don’t end up in recycling plants resultant we are left with piles of plastic waste. As we are the producer as we all as the consumer in this plastic to waste chain, it becomes important to understand & choose our products so that they don’t end up disrupting the food webs. The categories listed, attribute to the scenarios when our used plastic products become a part of trash & don’t end up being recycled.  Get a detailed overview of Plastic recycling on Wikipedia.

• Categorized Non-Recyclable Because Of Chemical Properties

Of the innumerable forms of plastic available, they can still be categorized as Thermosets & thermoplastics. Where you can melt thermoplastics and remold them, the same will not be possible with thermosets. You cannot covert thermosets back to liquid once they are molded. This category of plastic is used in areas where exposure of the product to heating is expected, like the silicone & melamine products used in our kitchen. They often serve various purposes but end up in the trash after they are no longer used. Instead, we can switch to stainless steel or wooden products wherever possible.

• Multi-layered products serving a single purpose

To curb the increasing use of single-use plastic, an alternative to plastic cups i.e. disposable paper cups were introduced.  Where they were often misinterpreted to be biodegradable, the reality seemed to be different. Paper cups are usually lined with a thin film of plastic which prevents the liquid from seeping into the paper. Special machinery is required to separate these two different layers for processing further. But this incurs heavy costs that recycling them won’t be economically feasible. It is often better to use a product with single material so that sorting and recycling seems to be possible.

• Over-recycling will lead to degraded quality

Every time you opt to recycle a plastic product, its properties degrade, hence after a few recycling cycles material loses its properties and further recycling seems to be of no usage. Such types of products become trash and are often expected to degrade naturally.

• When your recycled products cost more than the fresh product

Consider buying a plastic pot and a recycled plastic pot, which of them would incur more cost and why? Raw plastic tends to be cheaper rather than recycled plastic which eventually has gone through many processes, to sum up to the high cost. This is why many manufacturers opt to buy fresh plastic as recycling won’t be economically feasible.

• Even the color of your product affects the way recycling works

Do you remember how much black plastic have you used this week? And do you know even after being categorized as recyclable this plastic still ends up in landfills? It is not possible to detect black plastic in the optical sorting equipment used in the recycling plant; hence it is considered as a non-valuable product and ends up becoming a part of other waste. If possible it’s better to choose colored products rather than going on with the black ones.

Where some careful observations while using plastic is needed, the increasing gap between the plastic produced and plastic recycled is still a matter of concern. We can always contribute our part to be more decisive while using the products and switching on to alternate greener options if available. Apart from this you should also know about Plastic Recycling Code and its importance.

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