Plastic is part of our everyday life but recycling plastic is a challenging maze of logistics, chemistry and regulations. Right now our best approach is to use less plastic until we figure out how to recycle plastics.
Why can't plastic be easily recycled?
Plastic is a hard material to recycle, why you may ask?
- many products contain a mix of several types of different plastics, when you mix plastic together it's hard to pull them apart to recycle. There are a lot of different types of plastics, here is a quick visual chart and you can check out our blog post on the different types of plastics.
Most plastic that is recovered from the waste stream is then "downcycled" into other products instead of being turned back into water bottles or plastic packaging. There are a lot of companies doing interesting things with plastics and the interest in the plastic recycling space is increasing with more attention on the issue of plastic waste. From toys to bags there is a variety of creative companies doing interesting things, Green Toys has recycled 114 million milk jugs since starting over a decade ago, check out their live milk jug recycling counter on their website!
Yes, you can recycle plastic back into plastic but it's not easy!
There are companies working on recycling plastic at scale, one of them is located in British Columbia, Merlin Plastics. Merlin plastics processes curbside plastic and turn it into "pellets" which can then be melted down to produce new plastic products. Merlin has been working for years to refine and improve its recycling process to take curbside plastic and turn it into a resaleable product. Today they process a wide variety of plastics and turn them into plastic pellets which are sold to companies to create new plastic products. Check out this video to learn more about how Merlin Plastics is helping lead BC as one of the top plastic recycling jurisdictions in North America.
The best way to prevent plastic pollution is to not use plastic in the first place....
Due to challenges with plastic recycling right now the best way to help with our plastic addiction is to use less in the first place. Canada has started to use regulation as a tool to help Canadians kick their plastic habit starting with the upcoming 2022 single-use plastic ban. What is being banned in 2022?
- plastic checkout bags
- stir sticks
- 6-pack rings
- food service ware made from problematic plastics.
Make your new year resolution for 2022 to find alternatives to single-use plastic. Here are some ideas to get you started!