Plastics has made our life easier and a whole lot safer. As plastic can be less expensive to manufacture and transport because of their little weight, they can save money for consumers. At this point, you may be asking what’s not to like. Well, plastic bags, like other kinds of packaging, ultimately get discarded. But might you don’t know where to recycle plastic bags ? In this article, we will get straight to this matter.
Funny facts about plastic bag wastes
American throw away a great many things: 158 million tons worth of things every year to be exact. Of all the items we throw out, plastic bags represent about 4% of the total.
But, they are visible and often very durable part of that waste so people are looking for ways to reduce the amount that has to be landfilled. Though the figure is varying from region to region, about 85% of our waste currently finds its way into landfills, 5% is incinerated and 10% is recycled. Municipal waste planners are now making efforts to change these percentages. One of the components of the new formula is increased recycling and plastic is a ready partner in this effort.
Already, plastic bags are being recycled at an impressive rate despite the fact that they are very few large-scale collection systems in place for them.
20% plastics bags are now being recycled, just think how much more will be able to recover when an organized system is in place? Recycling involves than transforming used items into something you can make a new product out of. Used materials have to be collected, sorted, reclaimed and finally made into products the people will want to buy.
It’s been proven that plastics can meet all of these requirements.
How to strengthen and expand this effort
Collecting is an obvious thing, to begin with. In many communities, recyclables are collected at drop-off points or buyback centers.
Some states have bottle deposit laws, but several states and communities now require citizens to place their recyclables on the curb. And we can see that the recycling rates can increase dramatically when you make it easy for consumers to participate.
Experience and research show you’ll get more material from each household if you let people throw all of their glass, metal and plastic recyclables in the same container. Then, these containers will be picked up at the curbside just like other refuses.
Where to Recycle Plastic Bags
Often the recyclables are taken to a central sorting location called the material recovery facility. If the materials have been separated at the source, they only need to be prepared for transport to a recycler.
Soon, a technology developed in Europe will allow mixed recyclables to be mechanically separated into their generic components. Aluminum, steel; corrugated cardboard; glass which has been hand separated by color and plastics which are also separated into PET, soft drink bottles, high-density polyethylene milk, water and juice jugs and other containers.
Now, thanks to the voluntary coding system being implemented by the plastics packaging industry, consumers and recyclers will have the option of including detergent shampoo and other plastic containers. These can be sorted by materials according to the codes on each package which indicate the type of plastic made from.
Some recyclers already accept plastic oil and detergent bottles and containers that can’t be easily separated are being recycled in mixed form. It’s interesting to know that plastics are not only relatively easy to separate from other materials, but also contribute greatly to the revenues of recycling operations.
Once the plastics have been from other recyclables, the material must be reclaimed or made ready for recycling into other products. A number of companies across the country are now recycling plastics. For instance, at Wellman incorporated in Johnsonville South Carolina, more than 100 million pounds of PET from soft drink bottles were reprocessed last year into fiber for carpeting. Bonded batting for comforters, clothing and geotextiles for reinforcing railroad beds and roadways.
The growth of plastic industry
Not only helps the environment, research sponsored by the plastics industry is helping the number of recycling businesses to grow. At the center of plastics recycling research at Rutgers University, PET reclamation technology has been developed. It is being licensed on a non-exclusive basis for a nominal fee to encourage nationwide commercialization.
The PET from soft drink bottles is mechanically separated from the base cup label and cap materials. The result of a highly pure PET flake ready to be manufactured into new products.
Research sponsored by the plastic recycling foundation indicates that with adequate collection systems, the amount of PET recycled in the US could grow to 600 million pounds or 50% of the PET bottle market by the mid-1990s.
High-density polyethylene bottles are also being recycled in the US. The amount is growing at companies like Eagle Brook Plastics. In Chicago, polyethylene plastics are being reclaimed and recycled into useful new products. For instances, soft drink bottle, base cups, agricultural pipes, and durable plastic lumber.
Besides, current research indicated that even more plastics can be recycled if adequate collection systems and markets are established. For instance, manufacturers are running pilot tests on vinyl bottles which can be used to make products like a drainage pipe. Meanwhile, several companies are participating in pilot programs to recycle polystyrene packaging and food trays into existing markets.
The advance in plastic recycle technology
We’ve seen how separated plastics can be reclaimed. But, what about plastic bags that can’t be easily or economically separated at the materials recovery facility. Commingled or mixed plastics, as well as used plastic bags, are being recycled by machine.
Many companies in the US have taken advantage of this technology on a commercial scale. Market development tests are being sponsored by the plastics recycling foundation.
Unsorted chopped plastics are heated and fed into a tubular mold. Products of varying lengths and sizes are extruded for use in all sorts of useful items. For examples, landscaping lumber, fence posts and rails and car stop. Markets for recycled plastics are developing rapidly. Thus, they are expanding in direct proportion to the amount of recyclable plastic collected from consumers.
Research and experience demonstrate the consumers will separate materials including plastics for recycling and plastic recycling can become a reality on a broad nationwide scale. From that point, if we give it a chance, when there is a need plastic bags are there for safe, economical convenient packaging. For keeping hot foods hot and cold drinks cold and for recycling plastic bags is part of the solution.