When recycling first made its public appearance in the 1960s, the product for recycling everyone was talking about was paper. Paper is relatively easy to recycle and recycling plants for it were already in the works. Hot on papers heels, the rising concern about plastics lead to plastic recycling processes and lots of consumer information being released. Plastics are still harder than paper to recycle, but more and more centers are working to be able to accommodate the demand. There are some recycling plastic that is easier to reuse than others. As a consumer interested in making a difference, its important for you to know where to take your plastics and which ones are easily handled by the local recycling plants.
Lets start with the most difficult type of plastic. Recycling plastics made from uncommon or several different types of plastics poses a special challenge to the home recycler. You might find these products marked with a number 7 or no number at all. Its also not uncommon to find that many recycling centers wont and can’t even accept these materials. Naturally, you don’t want to throw them away, only to end up in the landfills. It takes a lot of dedication to the recycling cause, but some consumers make it a point to return these plastic goods back to the manufacturer. That puts the problem of what to do with this material in the hands of the corporations that created it in the first place.
There are other plastics that aren’t quite as hard to have recycled, but still can pose a bit of a problem for consumers. Plastic recycling products bearing the numbers 3, 4, or 5 can create issues as well. Items with those numbers include heavy plastic containers like Tupperware, plastic wrap, baby bottles and nipples, as well as used shower curtains. Some community recycling centers will accept these kinds of plastics, but more often than not, you only have the choice of returning to sender, as above, or throwing these items away to finish their lives in the landfills.
Not every plastic recycling effort is doomed to end in failure or high postage charges. Plastics with the rating of one or two are easy to recycle. The collection company and recycling plant are more than willing to take on these items. Things like soft drink and water plastic bottles and milk jugs fall into these categories. Shampoo bottles, some plastic toys, and medicine containers are also easy to dispose of at the recycling center. Once these items have been processed, they often begin life again in new plastic bottles, bean bag chairs, and fiberfill for a variety of different products.