Why is plastic difficult to recycle completely?



Plastic is not only light and durable, it has excellent sealing and heat resistance, transparency and free coloring, but also an excellent material that can be recycled after use. However, not all plastic is collected for recycling, and even if it is collected, not all will become new plastic. National Public Radio (NPR) explains in an easy-to-understand manner how plastics used in products that can be purchased at general supermarkets are processed in the United States.

Plastics: What's Recyclable, What Becomes Trash — And Why

◆ About types of plastic and non-recyclable
・ Lap film: Not recyclable
Wrapped films used for packaging vegetables, meat, cheese, etc. are “unrecyclable”. Wrapped film accounts for a significant portion of the trash, but it cannot be processed in a recycling facility because thin film can wrap around the machine.

・ Small plastics: Not recyclable
Small plastics are usually not recyclable. Small plastics of 3 inches or less, such as bread bag clips (

bags / closures ), medicine packaging, disposable spoon bags, etc., can enter between devices and cause malfunctions. Applicators for tampons, which are women's sanitary products, are also classified as small plastics and cannot be recycled.

・ Plastic package: not recyclable
Bag-shaped plastic packages cannot be recycled because they stick to the conveyor of the recycling facility. In addition, potato chips bags are made of aluminum lining, making it impossible to isolate and recycle plastic alone.

・ Deodorant solid container: not recyclable
Deodorant containers are usually not recyclable because their labels, caps and moving parts are made of different plastics. In the United States, there are companies that provide services that collect and recycle containers.

・ Pet bottles: Recyclable
A plastic bottle is a package made on the premise of recycling. However, labels are not recyclable and must be removed before collection. Whether it can be recycled with the PET bottle cap attached to the PET bottle depends on the equipment of the recycling facility.

・ Other plastic bottles: Recyclable
Plastic bottles with lid area less than the bottom, such as detergents, shampoos, and liquid soap, are basically recyclable. However, containers with spray nozzles, such as bath detergents, may contain metal in the nozzle head, so the nozzles must be separated.

-Stackable plastic containers: Recyclable depends on local government
The type of plastic container with a lid and container that are used to store side dishes in a supermarket is made of the same type of plastic as a plastic bottle, but it is not necessarily recyclable because of its shape. about. Whether it can be recycled depends on the local government.

・ Yogurt butter container: Recyclable by local government
Yogurt and butter containers often use multiple plastics and are difficult to recycle. However, there are companies in the US that are trying to recycle yogurt and butter containers into paint cans.

・ Styrofoam: Basically not recyclable
Most of the Styrofoam containers used for meat trays sold at supermarkets are made of air. A special machine is required to remove air and make it easy to reuse. Many cities in the United States prohibit

foamed plastics containing polystyrene, and in 2019, Maine and Maryland passed a state law that bans all polystyrene resins.

・ Plastic bags and packaging plastic: Basically not recyclable
Plastic bags for wrapping bread and cereal and plastic for packaging are basically not recyclable because they can damage the machinery in the recycling facility. However, major grocery stores such as Wal-Mart are trying to collect plastic bags.

・ HOW2RECYCLE: Recyclable
“HOW2RECYCLE” is a label indicating that the product is recyclable, led by

GreenBlue, an American environmental NGO.

All packages with the HOW2RECYCLE label are recyclable. Walmart, the largest supermarket, has also adopted the HOW2RECYCLE label as a private brand, and HOW2RECYCLE seems to be becoming popular in the United States.

◆ How are plastics recycled?
Plastics transported to recycling facilities are further separated by man and machine. The size of the recycling facility varies depending on the local government. Some recycling facilities are operated by large corporations, while others are small-scale recycling facilities at the level of private businesses. There is no set guideline because “How to recycle” varies depending on the facility.

Recyclable plastics are compressed and sold to companies that produce plastic containers from waste plastics and companies that produce clothing and furniture. On the other hand, it may be cheaper to use new plastic than to use recycled plastic.

One of the problems with plastic containers and packaging is that they are not designed for recycling. American recycling facilities are working with manufacturers to design recyclable packages.

There is also a problem that even if it is recyclable, it will not be recycled. Plastic bottles are one of the best plastics to recycle, but about one-third are thrown away without being recycled. However, it is also a problem that “you can recycle anything without sorting”.

NPR says, “Recycling alone cannot solve the waste problem, but it is considered to be one of the important pieces for solving it.”

in Note, Posted by log1k_iy