Plastic used to make different articles varies due to its molecular structure that influences its properties, in turn affecting its capacity to be recycled. Such commodities are used by everyone and people are often left wondering if the articles they are using – be it shopping bags, yogurt tubs, or ice-cream containers – are recyclable or not.
Do These Shopping Bags Actually Get Recycled?
The properties of all forms of plastic are not the same. As a result, all plastic articles cannot be recycled. For the last quarter of a century, the residents of New York City have been confused as to which articles can be recycled and which can’t since they are not aware of the difference.
The properties of plastic are determined by polymers or the molecular structure. Due to this, some plastics liquefy at temperatures as low as 325 degrees while others need a temperature of at least 720 degrees to melt. Plastics that are thermoset, such as the material used to make the bodies of desktop computers, do not liquefy at all and cannot be recycled. In other cases, plastics with different types of polymers do not mix with each other, limiting their usage. Due to these factors, recycling companies need to scrutinize plastic articles that they accept.
According to the program leader of the Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project at Cornell University – Lois Levitan, processors need to follow a formula while recycling, maintaining a balance in their recipe. As we have read above, this becomes difficult when plastics have a varying molecular structure. He further added that there are many plastics that can be recycled, but considering the cost factor, recycling proves to be impractical.
When checking the feasibility of recycling plastics, logistics also plays a vital role. For example, styrofoam can be recycled. However, the cost of transporting this air-filled, light-weight product offsets the financial benefits of recycling it.
Earlier this year, New York officials announced that hard plastics would also be recycled, making the segregation of waste a bit easier.
Smart Use of Shopping Bags
Shopping bags are surely indispensable. Keeping in mind the impact that plastic has on the environment, you should avoid single-use plastic bags completely. Reusable bags are a better option since they can be made from recycled material and can be recycled too. In addition, they are very durable and can be used several times.
You should be careful when disposing plastic articles. It is not very difficult to differentiate between recyclable and non-recyclable plastic commodities by looking at the resin codes that indicate the polymer type. These codes enable better segregation of plastics for the purpose of recycling. Based on the code marked, waste items are sent to recycling units to be used for the production of specific commodities.