Friday, September 12, 2008

Plastics, De-coded


If you click on the above photo the picture will open larger for easier viewing.
There are many types of plastic in common use. Plastic must be sorted by type for recycling since each type melts at a different temperature and displays different properties. The plastics industry has developed identification codes to label different types of plastic. The identification system divides plastic into seven distinct types and uses a number code generally found on the bottom of containers. The following table explains the seven code system.

Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)
Common uses: 2 liter soda bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. This is the most widely recycled plastic and often has redemption value under the "Bottle Bill."

Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Common uses: detergent bottles, milk jugs.

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Common uses: plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers. Please note that plastic bags are not accepted for recycling curbside. However, stop and shop and Big Y Supermarkets accept plastic bags for recycling. Please remove food waste and receipts.

Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Common uses: dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers. Safeway Stores and Lucky Food Centers accept HDPE (#2) and LDPE (#4) plastic bags for recycling.

Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)
Common uses: bottle caps, drinking straws. Recycling centers almost never take #5 plastic.

Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS)
Common uses: packaging pellets or "Styrofoam peanuts," cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go "clam shell" containers. Many shipping/packaging stores will accept polystyrene peanuts and other packaging materials for reuse. Cups, meat trays, and other containers that have come in contact with food are more difficult to recycle.

Plastic #7: Other
Common uses: certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware. This plastic category, as its name of "other" implies, is any plastic other than the named #1-#6 plastic types. These containers can be any of the several different types of plastic polymers. Recycling centers cannot recycle plastic #7. Look for alternatives.

4 comments:

ailso said...

People have a distorted perception of the significance of plastic blags. Take 5 disposable plastic carrier bags and compare the weight of them to a single empty yoghurt pot...
There is actually almost nothing to them.

The pressure to reduce plastic bag use is not really about conserving resources.
Food packaging -the actual tins and trays and pots which everything is sold in, is very wasteful but established and profitable. It has always used literaly *thousands* of times as much resource as disposable carrier bags have. Our big companies have been happy then, to help us obsess haplessly over the featherlight plastic 'bubbles' which we may or may not use to transport all their heavily packaged products (many of which we only need/desire due to expensive advertising)

The situation is similar with people trying to conserve energy by constantly flicking lights and standby devices on and off. In Europe the average energy use per person is around 5000 watts (smoothed average every hour of every day, week, year...) In USA it is around 7000 watts.
A device on standy will consume 1 to 5 watts, a low energy bulb ~20 watts. It does not matter how much attention people waste by flicking switches on and off, it will make no significant difference to our systematic energy use. To change that requires political and economic action. That has been talked about for years now, and all we still have is the pointless products and packaging and adverts and aspirations, and only futile cosmetic changes to our behaviour.

(sorry)

Rachel said...

I agree with just about everything you've said here, except, that those plastic bags just seem to do extra damage to nature/oceans. They fly around, imitate food and are just harder to keep in a land fill. And they really are one of the easiest ways we can start to cut back on plastic on a mass scale. Look at China for example. As far as the other stuff, its going to take public awareness campaigns and eventually laws on a massive scale to ever put a dent into our throw away consumer societys obsession with plastic. And compared to Germany per se, were just totally wasteful in general. There, they must sort their waste into groups otherwise the trash man wont take it. If I remember correctly, it was electronics/batteries, paper, plastic glass and compost. Alot of their beverages came in large bottles that you bought by the crate, used then brought back in the same crate, to be washed and reused. Im kinda hoping to get into this type of business we so desperately need here in America. But infrastructure is needed, and breaking the american lazy way of life is difficult.

sandhya bizconn said...

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