Look around you: there’s plastic everywhere. From the obvious forms of it like disposable water bottles and utensils to the less commonly thought of manifestations – your PC keyboard, car parts, and product packaging – the American marketplace has developed a strong reliance on the synthetic material. Though recycling continues to catch on as an important part of plastic consumption, many Americans are still either unsure or uniformed about all the different varieties of plastic that exist and the rules surrounding their reuse. We’re here to break down plastic types and recyclability with this step-by-step guide.
Number 1 Plastics
These are your soft drink bottles, vegetable oil containers, medicine cases, and other prevalent consumer product packaging. Number 1 plastics are generally made from PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) and used for single-use goods because it is economical to produce and relatively easy to recycle. In spite of its reusability, the recycling rate for number 1 plastics is still low at about 20% , indicating a real gap in consumer education and follow through when it comes to its recycling. Manufacturers continue to push for the use of number 1 plastics as cost-effective options for packaging that yields minimally negative environmental impact when recycled properly.
Number 2 Plastics
A higher density, more durable polyethylene plastic is used for thicker containers – like the ones that hold laundry detergent and shampoo. Another easily recycled plastic, number 2 products often get remade into toys, floor tile, pens, and more, and are touted for their low risk of leaching breakdown products.
Number 3 Plastics
Made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), this tough form of plastic withstands weather and is therefore often use in building materials like piping and siding. Most recycling centers don’t accept number 3 plastic, even though many people mistakenly believe it can be recycled. Certain plastic lumber makers may take number 3 products, however, and process them for reuse in decks, paneling, gutters, flooring, and so forth.
Number 4 Plastics
Chances are you have a storage closet or drawer somewhere in your house stuffed with plastic shopping bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE). Why the frequent build-up of disposable bags? Most curbside recycling services do not accept them, and many shoppers haven’t yet completely converted to the reusable bag system. Other forms of number 4 plastics include bread bags, frozen food packaging, carpet, and squeeze bottles.
Number 5 Plastic
With a high melting point, polypropylene (PP) is often used for containers meant for holding hot liquids and is accepted by some curbside programs. Straws, syrup bottles, yogurt containers, and the like are often manufactured from number 5 plastic.
Number 6 Plastics
When you grab takeout or a box for leftovers, it’s probably made of polystyrene (PS), which are moderately recyclable and often turned into things like insulation, egg cartons, foam packaging, and of course – more food packaging.
Number 7 Plastics
These are the miscellaneous plastics – ones made of various different types of numbers 1-6 or with formulations that are not widely utilized. Sometimes branded with a number 7 and other times not at all, these plastics are the most difficult to recycle – sunglasses, iPod cases, nylon, and more. Conscious consumers can return products made of these materials to the manufacturer to let them handle the recycling of these difficult-to-breakdown synthetics.
NOVATEC has helped transform the way plastics are processed by producing resin dryers with groundbreaking MoistureMaster™ sensors that measure and adjust the moisture content of plastic pellets, flake, or regrind – greatly improving the quality of parts produced, reducing faulty parts to an absolute minimum. This innovative technology allows plastic manufacturers to carefully monitor the drying of plastic materials and modify the process to ensure efficient and accurate processing. We are committed to reducing the overuse of non-renewable resources used to make plastics through our drying systems that make the recycling of plastics possible.
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