With the surge of innovative technology around the world, plastic recycling is producing a wide variety of new building materials and other products.
Unlike most other common, recyclable solid waste products, not all types of plastics are easily recyclable and some are not recyclable at all. Which is a long-standing problem for the waste management industry and the environment.
When Plastic Recycling Isn't
We live in a generation that has always known recycling. In fact, except for those born before 1970, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has been a familiar phrase for most Americans since pre-school. The problem is that not everything can be recycled.
And this can come as a shock to many people.
As the website for Plastics For Change points out,
In principle, almost all plastic can be recycled. However, in practice, there are a variety of different barriers that can undermine this process. Unfortunately, it does not always make environmental, economic, or technical sense to do so.
When it comes to plastics in particular, while most varieties can be recycled given the proper processing, the reality is that most of them are not. Ever.
In fact, while actual numbers vary and are hard to track, the EPA estimates that as recently as 2018, plastics waste totaled 35.7 million tons in the United States and made up 12.2 percent of the municipal solid waste generated.
However, our landfills received 27 million tons of that plastic waste. Some of the rest ended up in incineration plants, while the amount of recycled plastics was only 3 million tons.
That's a recycling rate of just 8.7 percent.
On the plus side, one particular type of plastic - polyethylene terephthalate or PET - is completely recyclable, and is the most recycled plastic in the U.S. with a recycling rate of around 30 percent.
So, until something changes, we may continue to see millions of tons of waste plastic being dumped into landfills year after year. Or, worse, ending up in our oceans.
Good News for Plastic Recycling
Scientists, researchers, and technicians in several countries have been working on the plastic recycling dilemma for decades and the results are starting to come fast and furious.
For example, polypropylene, used for plastic packaging, plastic parts for machinery and equipment, as well as fibers and textiles, is recyclable but not easily. However, this may be changing according to a recent article,
Now more than ever, scientists and researchers are experimenting to discover sustainable ways to recycle plastic. So far, one recycling technology that makes it work, belongs to John Layman. Working for Procter and Gamble, Layman has developed ‘PureCycle Technology’ – a way to recycle polypropylene by removing contaminants, odor, and color until nothing is left but a reusable resin. PureCycle succeeded in creating a recycled plastic showerhead in 2021, leaving room for more exciting developments as we enter 2022.
Recycling most plastics by conventional means is notoriously difficult, expensive, and inefficient, with the result being that only 9 percent of all plastic ever made has been recycled into new plastics.
In the United Kingdom, new technologies are being applied to deconstruct plastics and recycle them essentially from their basic components.
As one article noted,
In the UK, Mura Technology has begun construction of the world's first commercial-scale plant able to recycle all kinds of plastic. The plant can handle mixed plastic, coloured plastic, plastic of all composites, all stages of decay, even plastic contaminated with food or other kinds of waste. Mura's "hydrothermal" technique is a type of feedstock recycling using water inside the reactor chamber to spread heat evenly throughout.
The article goes on to report that, in the US, the chemical company Ineos has become the first to use a technique called depolymerisation on a commercial scale to produce recycled polyethylene, which goes into carrier bags and shrink film.
Much of the plastic products we use on a daily basis are so common and so seemingly minor and inconsequential that we often fail to realize the cumulative impact of all the waste they produce.
Take plastic drink cups, for example.
One company has taken on the challenge of creating technologies and processes to divert most, if not all, of these waste plastic items from landfills. As one website reports,
The statistics on the state of single-use plastic and paper items in the world today are almost incomprehensible. With over half a trillion single-use plastic cups disposed of, the quantities being sent to the landfill are alarming.
The US-based startup NexGen Consortium aims to refine and coordinate the entire journey of single-use plastic cups to get them into recycling units. They host the NexGenCup, an open innovation challenge that has already given rise to 12 innovative cup solutions from making them compostable and recyclable at home to new materials for making the cups. Packaging, recovery, and supply chain experts provide insights for using the right type of cups.
When You Have Your Own Plastic Recycling Dilemma
While most urban, suburban, and even many rural residents have recycling bins provided to them by their local waste management agencies or contracted vendors, these containers can only hold so much. And most of them are only emptied on a weekly or even a bi-weekly basis.
And there are times and situations where we can find ourselves suddenly inundated with large quantities' of plastic waste.
While you might be able to take some of your plastic waste materials to a local recycling center, it is often limited to PET plastic which commonly comes in the form of bottled water containers. But if you have other types of plastic from packaging, broken down lawn or patio furniture made from high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, or possibly PP - polypropene, you need another avenue for recycling.
The most common default solution for most people is to make arrangements for a "dump run" and simply haul these items to the nearest landfill or waste transfer station. Unfortunately, this is not only bad for the environment, it is often laborious and costly.
The better option would be to find a way to have someone else pick up these items for you and make sure they get recycled.
Which is why Junk King specializes in the removal and green disposal of all types of bulk waste materials including plastics.
Junk King Can Be Your Green Partner for Junk Removal and Recycling
We can provide you with a sustainable and green disposal option for all your junk removal needs.
Junk King provides professional junk hauling services to remove any types of junk including anything made with glass, metal, paper, and plastic. And we work hard to recycle as much of all the junk we pick up each day.
We can even remove your old furniture, yard waste, and excess garbage, as well.
Junk King has the equipment and teams for removing large refrigerators and other appliances, and we can move them down stairways, up basement steps, or out through garages.
Whatever type of junk you have, we always try to recycle or reuse everything and anything we pick up. Junk King's eco-friendly junk removal service helps you get rid of any unwanted junk, large plastic trash items, in a sustainable way.
If you are stuck with large amounts of waste plastic, Junk King can help you get rid of it today!
Our professional and insured junk removal team will show up at your home or office, and we'll call 15 to 30 minutes before we arrive. Once there, we’ll give you a free estimate based on how much room your junk takes up in our truck.
So, ready to get rid of that "hard-to-recycle" plastic waste? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
Make an appointment with us by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865).