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

Europe puts its 'Circular Economy' recycling effort on hold, for now

December 18, 2014 12:28 pm ET

The European Commission has withdrawn its Circular Economy initiative from its 2015 work program, and will instead replace it with “a new, more ...    More

Image

Toasting the best and worst of 2014

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

The plastics industry offered some amusing distractions too, but maybe you were too busy actually working to notice. That's OK, we keep track. Ladies ...    More

Image

New extruders, repelletizer to improve production for InterGroup

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

InterGroup International Ltd. will install new, larger extruders and repelletizers at all three of its plastic scrap recycling locations in 2015.    More

Image

Investments allow UK's Jayplas to keep recycling supply chain at home

December 17, 2014 9:32 am ET

Corby, England-based plastics recycler Jayplas has announced the completion of a new extrusion and printing plant, together with a new packaging...    More

Image

Plastimagen highlights Mexican success

December 12, 2014 11:28 am ET

The dust has settled. The exhibitors and public have gone home. But Plastimagen México 2014, the 19th edition of the show first held in the Mexican ca...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events