Fact One: In the United States alone, we use over two and a half million plastic bottles every hour. These are not just water bottles, but cleansers, health products and other liquids containers from motor oil and lubricant to milk and juice bottles. Most of these bottles unfortunately end up in the dump.
Fact Two: Plastic garbage bags and those little plastic rings that hold soda cans together can kill an estimated one million sea dwellers every year because so much of our trash is dumped into the ocean. Plastic is light weight so it swims with them and they get caught or suffocate in it. That’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?
Number three: We in the United States all by ourselves toss away over twenty-five billion Styrofoam products every year. This stuff isn’t biodegradable, folks.
Last fact: To end on a positive note, recycling our plastics can uses half as much energy than it takes to burn it. It also reduces the amount of toxic chemicals in the air from incinerating. Due to public awareness, in just nine years between 1990 and 1999, the number of plastic recycling companies grew by 80%. And they are new ones around the world being built every year.
Since the mid-twentieth century, plastic has reigned as the preferred material to use. It is cheap to produce, does not corrode, can be molded into all sorts of shapes and is relatively unbreakable. Today we would find it hard to live without plastic. I dare you to take just five minutes and write down all of the plastic in the room where you are. It can by an eye-opener.
So, yes, recycling plastic is of the utmost importance.
More good news is that it is easier than ever to recycle plastics. Most major metropolitan areas have plastic recycle capabilities. But you must remember to look for the recycle code in the triangle on your plastics and verify what numbers your community recycles. Not all plastics are recyclable. If it does not have a number in a triangle embossed on the bottom, it is not. Many microwavable plastics are not recyclable. You just need to train yourself to look for the “emboss” before you toss. (And of course, rinse them out before you put them in the bin). These numbers are identification codes that lets the recycler know what type of chemicals are in the plastic, how pliable it is, etc. The most common plastics are the termed the PET (such as clear looking soda bottles) and the less see-through MDEP bottles (such as milk and laundry detergent bottles). RecycleAbility has links that can help you determine what identification numbers are recyclable in your area.