Are you up for debunking some myths about plastics recycling? Envision Plastics Industries LLC's "Save the Plastics" is rapidly becoming my favorite plastics-related blog. Today the site posted a nice item that analyzes and comments on a well-traveled article from the Ecology Center in Berkeley, Calif., titled "Seven Misconceptions About Plastic and Plastic Recycling." The folks at Envision Plastics, a major recycler of plastic packaging, is in a good position to comment on the "Misconceptions" article -- after all, they've got first-hand experience. The blog notes that, despite the global audience that "Misconceptions" has enjoyed, the content of the article is actually more locally driven, "and not particularly accurate across a broader cross section of the country, or even California for that matter." Here are a few of the seven "Misconceptions," along with Envision's take on the issues:
Misconception #1: "Plastics that go into a curbside recycling bin get recycled. Not necessarily.", says the Ecology Center. This statement is not accurate. Provided that we put the proper plastics in our recycling bins, as requested by our municipal waste authority, they will all be recycled. In Berkeley, they ask for #1 PET bottles and #2 HDPE bottles only. These plastics are in high demand and will be recycled back into plastics products. The Ecology Center states that "In fact, none of the recovered plastic containers from Berkeley are being made into containers again...". This is not an accurate statement. We buy the #2 HDPE material from Berkeley (and many other California communities) and most of it is converted back into plastic bottles by Graham Packaging, Liquid Container, Consolidated Container, Clorox, Polytainer, Microdyne and other molders on the West coast. It is true that there are other end markets for this material and some of it may become plastic drainage pipe, plastic lumber or other products, but it certainly does not wind up in landfills. Misconception #2: "Curbside collection will reduce the amount of plastic landfilled. Not necessarily.", says the Ecology Center. This doesn't make sense to us. Our plant in Chino, California saved 344,626,607 plastic bottles from being landfilled in 2010 alone and we are not the only recycler on the West coast. The Ecology Center argues that more recycling will lead to more demand for plastics products. This is not how demand for consumer products is created; however, demand for recycled plastics currently exceeds supply of curbside collected plastics, so our attitude is, bring it on! We'll recycle it!Envision doesn't just debunk the Berkeley article. They agree on some points, such as the meaning of the chasing arrows recycling symbol, and on the value of source reduction. Check out the link for more "Save the Plastics" posts ... and keep up the good work, Envision.