Plastic recycling and recycling altogether can be done in either two ways – right or wrong. Due to many inhabitants of this planet choosing the latter option, one could seriously doubt the general recycling knowledge of the masses.
To put it mildly, a lot of good can be done with proper plastic recycling because so much of our waste is plastic but luckily recyclable. We are fond of repeating the phrase don’t waste your waste. By this, we of course mean that under no circumstances should something be littered if it can be recycled, repaired or reused.
With plastic recycling, there are misconceptions and misunderstandings. Let’s go over some of them right now.
Avoid recycling dirty plastics
Dirty plastics? Yes, dirty plastics and by this, we mean food packaging. Recyclable food packaging items such as salad boxes or condiment jars should always be cleaned before recycling.
Unwashed dirty plastics with leftover mayonnaise stains will not go through the plastic recycling process and therefore it is imperative to quickly rinse your recyclables with cold water beforehand.
Styrofoam – what’s the deal?
Imagine the familiar scenario of buying a brand new washing machine or perhaps a shining 55” inch flat-screen. After the unpacking, you are usually left with gargantuan amounts of styrofoam.
You can sort styrofoam into the recyclable plastic bin but make sure you have cut them into smaller pieces. This again helps immensely in the plastic recycling process. However, styrofoam still does end up in incineration.
The plastic recycling bin is intended for packages
It’s always a headscratcher when witnessing all kinds of plastic items in the bin meant for plastic packages. Children’s toys, plastic accessories like shovels or buckets, and so forth. These, of course, do not belong among plastic packaging, they should be sorted into the mixed waste bin instead.
It’s one of the most common mistakes made in plastic recycling and without question should be avoided always.
What to do with PVC?
Plastic recycling and PVC did not go hand in hand here in Finland until recently. From June of 2022 onward, Finnish regulations state that PVC can be put into the same plastic bin with different plastic packaging.
This is a change that has and will make sorting easier for recyclers. PVC is a common plastic and for example, many medicine and electronic device packages are PVC. One can recognize PVC plastic by bending it and noticing that the material turns white.
Plastic and other materials?
Of course, not all packaging is 100% plastic because sometimes a part of the package is made from metal or cardboard, for example. A good rule of thumb is that if the packaging is more plastic than other materials, then it can be sorted into the plastic bin.
Again, it is common that one might be baffled over the right way to recycle if the packaging has different materials in it.
Don’t avoid plastic recycling!
The biggest mistake to avoid is not recycling at all. Plastic recycling needs to be more consistent and done routinely. However confusing some situations in plastic recycling may be, don’t avoid it! Instead, become informed and learn to appreciate all the good that recycling does to our nature.
Sorting plastic is one of the easiest environmentally friendly acts in our everyday lives. Proper plastic recycling saves energy, and nature and helps in the fight against climate change.