Only 9% of Plastic is Recycled

Only 9% of Plastic is Recycled

With statistics showing only 9% of plastic is recycled, more needs to be done. Recycling is an ideal method of keeping plastics out of landfills and eleswhere in the environment, but many other options are equally beneficial methods of reducing the amount of plastics in landfill or in the ocean.

The variety of plastic types includes a complex array of items that can and cannot be recycled, leaving the consumer the job of determining which to trash and which to recycle. Further complicating things is that some parts of a package may be recyclable while other parts are not. For example, often plastic bottles can be recycled, but their caps cannot. Including non-recyclable items can damage recycling equipment and increase the cost by requiring careful sorting. Many plastic containers contain food, liquids, or other contents that should be cleaned prior to recycling. Even labels can gum up recycling equipment. All of these factors increase the cost and effort required.

reusable water bottle
Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

Reducing our reliance on single-use, disposable packaging can make an equal or larger impact than recycling. Multi-pack and bulk items can provide a better ratio of packaging to products and many companies are making efforts to reduce excess packaging. Other companies are testing alternatives to plastic as packaging materials, including plant-based materials that decompose more easily.

Choosing products packaged in glass or metal are another simple option. Glass and metal are much more efficiently recycled than plastics. Additionally, glass and metal containers can easily be cleaned, reused, and repurposed. Choosing a reusable water bottle over disposable plastic bottles can be a simple act, significantly reduce one of the biggest sources of plastic waste, and be a healthier choice by avoiding exposure to chemicals from cheap plastic bottles that can leach into the water.

Other simple choices include using real utensils rather than single serve plastic ones, grouping shipments to reduce packing, using your own bags when shopping, or buying secondhand. Small changes do make an impact.

Photo by Antoine GIRET on Unsplash

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