The good news – Americans are getting better at recycling. However, we can do more – especially when it comes to plastics recycling.
Jay Katari Explains the Benefits of Plastics Recycling
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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Plastics make up more than 12-percent of the municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from 1960, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream.”
But here are the hard facts: In 2010, the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging, almost 11 million tons as durable goods, such as appliances, and almost 7 million tons as non durable goods, for example plates and cups.
But only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling.
American Chemistry Council reports that a much larger portion of the U.S. population has ready access to recycle commonly used plastics than previously believed. Specifically the study entitled, “Plastics Recycling Collection: National Reach Study,” found that 94 percent of Americans have access to recycle plastic bottles and 40 percent of the population also can recycle other types of plastic containers, such as yogurt cups, dairy tubs and lids.
So the upshot is we still have a lot more we can do when it comes to recycling. However, it is not always so simple. The EPA reports that “The recycling rate for different types of plastic varies greatly… resulting in an overall plastics recycling rate of only 8 percent, or 2.4 million tons in 2010.” That said, the EPA warns there are different types of recycling and while some get recycled at a high rate like plastic bottles, other types of plastics were still being thrown away (think diapers and trash bags) and ending up in landfills.
Whenever you properly recycle plastics (usually by throwing them into the proper colored bin) these plastics get used again by manufactures. Recyclers rely on consumers to recover a steady supply of used plastics, such as assorted bottles, containers, etc. After going through a rigorous process of decontaminating the plastics and reducing them to pellets, recycled plastics can then be made into a variety of innovative products, including soft T-shirts, durable backyard decks, storage containers, car parts, decorative moldings and other home building products, cutting boards, and even fashionable hand bags.
The EPA recommends buying recycled products when possible and making sure not to throw your shampoo bottles in with the trash as these can also be recycled. There are many containers we carelessly discard, but the EPA is hoping that with a bit more knowledge, people will be more aware and up their recycling habits.
About the Author: Jay Katari is a social entrepreneur and a successful businessman in South Florida specializing in used clothing collection and recycling.