Plastics recycling: Still confused?

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: March 29, 2013 4:27 pm ET
Updated: March 29, 2013 4:40 pm ET

Image By: Rich Williams

Related to this story

Topics Recycling

I think it's usually pretty easy to identify plastic products by resin type and process — although I still pause when I see an unfamiliar package on a store shelf.

But most non-plastics folks don't know (or care) about the difference between PET, oriented polystyrene and PVC.

And that can be a problem when someone wants to do the right thing and recycle their plastic products.

The issue was reinforced to me in mid-March when I attended the Plastics Recycling conference in New Orleans.

I spent my time talking to many of the 1,000-plus attendees — many of the people who are responsible for the tremendous growth that we've seen in plastics recycling.

They'd like that growth to continue to accelerate, but they know there are still some barriers to overcome.

One of the biggest problems is that the public just doesn't fully understand plastics recycling.

Many people think they understand plastics recycling. Just ask your neighbors and friends.

If you're lucky, they'll tell you which plastics products they think are recyclable. (If you're not lucky, they'll tell you that plastics recycling is a sham, and that it all ends up in the landfill. There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there.)

But many are confused about things like resin codes, product types and whether recyclers want people to leave caps and labels on containers.

Most folks just want to do the right thing and recycle everything. In fact, one of my fellow panelists at the conference admitted he does just that — he puts containers into his recycling bin that he knows his city doesn't want, hoping his small protest will convince city officials to change their minds.

For now, which plastics are acceptable for recycling are going to vary by community, and depend on market forces and whether local recyclers can make money on them. There's no need to standardize and pretend that certain plastics aren't recyclable when there really is a market, even if it's just in a handful of communities.

At the same time, it would be great for the plastics industry if there were opportunities for consumers to put almost every type of plastic into a recycling bin.

That's a fantastic goal, and I hope that idea gets people in the plastics industry thinking about how they can achieve it.

Loepp is Plastics News editor and author the "The Plastics Blog."


Comments

Plastics recycling: Still confused?

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: March 29, 2013 4:27 pm ET
Updated: March 29, 2013 4:40 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Higher profits and rising blood pressure

August 27, 2014 12:19 pm ET

Company CEOs are typically big supporters of capitalism and the free market, and they should be. It's a great system for raising the standard of...    More

Image

Wal-Mart's 'Made in the USA' campaign is a great opportunity for reshoring effort

August 21, 2014 6:12 pm ET

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has attracted a lot of attention with its latest “Made in the USA” push, and that's been by design. TV ads that...    More

Image

Non-recyclable items gumming up the works at recycling centers

August 21, 2014 3:46 pm ET

The influx of all sorts of unacceptable items at recycling centers has gotten to the point that Charlotte, N.C.-based ReCommunity is trying to bring...    More

Image

GameDay Challenge expands the competition to the recycling bin

August 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

GameDay Recycling Challenge is returning this year as college football stadiums will compete to see which school produces the least amount of waste...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events