Plastics today are very important to every aspect of our lives. Plastics are used to manufacture so many of our items today including beverage containers, toys, and furniture. This widespread use of plastics demands proper end of life management. Did you know that plastics make up almost 13 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from 1960, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream going into landfills? The largest amount of plastics is found in containers and packaging (e.g., soft drink bottles, lids, shampoo bottles), but they also are found in durable (e.g., appliances, furniture) and nondurable goods (e.g., diapers, trash bags, cups and utensils, medical devices) and also it is a very important component in almost every piece of electrical equipment manufactured today. Without plastics the computer age would have never happened and of course neither would the cell phone craze.
Yes plastics are a main stay of our everyday life and we need to create better ways of seeing that all these plastic items don’t end up in our landfills because they are not biodegradable and what is placed there now will be there forever. Also our oceans are becoming highly contaminated with a lot of these plastics so all of us need to make sure that we get a good handle on how the plastic that we purchased is being disposed of. This is to avoid a complete environmental disaster from taking place right before our very eyes.
Here is a list of the seven most common used types of plastic:
PLASTIC #1: POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE (PET OR PETE)
Common uses: 2-liter soda bottles, single-use water bottle containers, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. This is the most widely recycled plastic
Commonly recycled, PET is semi-rigid and very lightweight. It’s best suited for single-use containers as it can break down when exposed to light and heat, causing it to leach. PET can also be processed into fabric, similar in strength and appearance to virgin nylon.
PLASTIC #2: HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE (HDPE)
Common uses: detergent bottles, milk jugs.
HDPE is a sturdy and reliable non-leaching translucent plastic. HDPE resists UV penetration, which can damage and discolor the plastic. Dishwasher-safe and able to withstand temperatures from -148 to 176° F (-100 to 80° C), it’s ideal for beverage and food storage.
PLASTIC #3: POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (PVC)
Common uses: plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers.
Most PVC vinyl products contain phthalates, which mimic human hormones and also affect various life forms including fish and invertebrates adversely. For this reason, we do not recommend products made from PVC for food storage.
PLASTIC #4: LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE (LDPE)
Common uses: dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers
LDPE are safe, non-leaching plastics. Flexible, impact-resistant and microwave-proof, it’s dishwasher-safe and able to withstand temperatures from -148 to 176° F (-100 to 80° C). This type of plastic is very safe for use with food and beverages.
PLASTIC #5: POLYPROPYLENE (PP)
Common uses: bottle caps, food containers, drinking straws.
BPA-free, polypropylene is commonly used for injection molding. Its resistance to high heat generally makes it microwave and dishwasher safe, as well as a good option for re-useable bags and food & beverage storage.
PLASTIC #6: POLYSTYRENE (PS)
Common uses: packaging pellets or “Styrofoam peanuts,” Styrofoam cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go “clam shell” containers.
Polystyrene foam is a major component of plastic debris in the ocean, where it becomes toxic to marine life. Currently, the majority of polystyrene products are not recycled. This material should be avoided.
PLASTIC #7: OTHER
Common uses: LEXAN, certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware. This plastic category, as its name of “other” implies, is any plastic other than the named #1-#6 plastic types. These containers can be any of the several different types of plastic polymers.
Polycarbonate is the most commonly-known #7 plastic. Proven to leach BPA, it is not recommended for food storage. Not all “other” plastic is polycarbonate, however. Plastics labeled #7 can also be a combination of several safe plastics. Individual research should be done when making decisions about #7 plastics.
Our business (URC) has many different machines that might work well for you in the plastic recycling industry. We always have several shredders available and most times also have several granulators available that would work well in processing these waste plastics. We also would more than likely be able to get our hands on some balers if you needed one of these as well. Please call Ann @ 660-295-4204 if you have any questions about any of the waste plastic recycling equipment that we have available for sale.
Please take the time to understand that we all need to make sure that all our waste plastics are being recycled properly. And remember that we each can help to overcome this rising environmental disaster while we still have a chance of making sure that our generation doesn’t allow this type of improper disposal of countless items manufactured out of plastic. So try and help keep our environment clean and this is one of the best places to start.