How much do you know about recycling plastics? Why is recycling important? These are important questions to ask yourself when deciding where to put your plastic water bottles and other waste. Plastic can be found in many places around you such as; your home, cars, your job, electronics, and even around food. These plastics may be used over and over again to create new objects, rather than creating new material. To understand the importance of recycling, we must first understand the plastic bottle recycling process. This will give a better perspective about what goes into the production of plastic products.
Here is a look at the plastic bottle recycling process.
Step 1: Collection
This step mostly focuses on collecting all plastic material to be recycled. Collecting materials are reliant on those, like you, to dispose of plastic in the proper bins. If put into regular trash bins, the plastic will not be recycled. It also depends on the success of a recycling system implemented in your community. This will allow for a smoother and more efficient recycling process.
Step 2: Sorting
After all materials are collected, a machine sorts the plastic into separate areas based on different properties of the plastic and what the end result will be. Some properties of plastic include the type of plastic, color of the plastic, and how it was made.
Step 3: Washing
The goal of this step is to remove any impurities and everything not made from plastic. Labels, adhesives, and food residue should be removed prior to the recycling process.
Step 4: Resizing
To resize, plastic will be shredded or granulated into small particles. Doing this will increase the surface area of plastic which will make it easier to process, reshape, and transport if needed. This step will also get rid of any other contaminants that may have gotten through the third step.
Step 5: Identification and Separation of Plastics
Small particles of plastic are tested in this step to determine the quality and class. The first quality is density. This is done by placing the particles in a tank of water. If the particles sink, they are denser but if they float, they are less dense. Air classification is determined next by putting the particles in a small wind tunnel. The smaller pieces will stay at the top and the larger ones will go to the bottom. Lastly, the melting point and color are taken by collecting and analyzing samples from the particles.
Step 6: Compounding
The last step to the plastic bottle recycling process is to smash and melt together the particles into plastic pellets, otherwise known as compounding. These pellets may be used in the production of other types of plastic products.
Now that you know how plastic is recycled, it is important to learn why is recycling important. Our plastic production has increased tremendously since the 1950s and continues to grow today. With just one recycled bottle, we can conserve enough energy to power a 60 watt light bulb for up to six hours! Think of all the energy we would conserve if we recycled 100 bottles. Not only does recycling save energy, but it also; reduces waste in landfills, preserves resources and protects wildlife, and helps our climate problems by limiting the amount of unhealthy greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 89 million tons of municipal solid waste was recycled, amounting to a 34.6% recycling rate. Increasing this rate will ensure that plastic is being gathered in the proper place and even used again.
If you are interested in learning how to recycle more around your home, here are 5 tips to ensure your plastic always ends up in the right bin.
1. Place recycling bins around your home where you are most likely to recycle. Areas include the kitchen, garage, and backdoor.
2. Mark separate bins for trash and recycling when guests are over.
3. Encourage others to recycle and educate them about the benefits of recycling.
4. Keep a bag in your car to collect plastics. When the bag is full, empty it in your recycling bin at home.
5. Get creative and use empty bottles for different projects around your home. Try planters, decorations, and storage.
Why is recycling important? “The Water Guy”™ understands the significance of following sustainable practices. While recycling may be inconvenient or confusing, there are ways to learn more about recycling programs. Researching the guidelines that your community has in place may offer a better guide as to what can and cannot be recycled in your curbside program. There are certain numbers found on bottles and containers that can be recycled, like 1, 2, 4, and 5. Numbers 3, 6, and 7 cannot be recycled. Educating oneself about the importance of recycling can make a difference in how we use plastic in our everyday lives.