Why is plastic recycling so puzzling?
Plastic recycling is an effective way of combating environmental pollution and, above all, climate change. That explains why almost everyone is willing to embrace it to reap its benefits. However, it has proven to be harder than one would expect from such a good course. What brings all that confusion?
1. Inconsistent Rules and Standards
One thing that brings confusion regarding plastic recycling is the different councils and the varying needs. The collection differs from one council to the other. Some collect specific types while others don’t mind. The most common recycled plastic are bottles. Trays, pots and tubs are also collected common. Therefore, it becomes a challenge for people to know what can be recycled in their area.
It is no secret that plastic is not the only recyclable waste. Local authorities treat recyclable waste different. Some treat them all equally; thus okay to put them in a single bin. However, others want recycled plastic separated from the rest. So, it can be puzzling to know what to put where under such circumstances.
2. Different Plastic Materials have Varying Recycling Rates
If they are all plastics, why are some plastics recycled more often than others? That’s because of the various types, including PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, and PS. Some are recycled more often than others due to their value. For instance, PP, HDPE and PET are commonly recycled. It doesn’t come as a surprise since the materials are often used in bottle manufacturing.
LDPE is recycled but not that often since it often associated with food contamination. On the other hand, PS, PVC and other plastics are hardly recycled. After all, the latter can even contaminate the rest of the plastics during recycling.
3. They also have Different Values Per Tonne
As much as the waste may become recycled plastic eventually, some make more money than others. Others are often overlooked because it wouldn’t be profitable to recycle them. Did you know that natural HDPE costs around thrice the cost of its colored counterpart? Yes, and that margin is even bigger than that of light blue or clear and coloured PET. Mixed plastic costs relatively little. PS is hardly recycled because chances of getting a customer are too low, if not none.
Due to the above issues, confusion in plastic recycling is the order of the day. The problem will most likely persist unless various councils agree on what should apply across the board. Alternatively, all the plastics should be labelled so that consumers can know what to put where.
If you can easily tell that the plastic you have is PET, it will be easier to know if you will put it in the recycling bin or with the rest of the waste. The same case applies to HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, and PS. Otherwise, recycled plastic will remain minimal, with almost everything ending up in the landfill.