Living

Know your plastics (they're not all made equal)

Know your plastics (they're not all made equal)

Wave line SVG.

The purpose it serves, why it isn't all bad and how to improve your recycling habits.

The purpose it serves, why it isn't all bad and how to improve your recycling habits.

Know your plastics (they're not all made equal)
We’re all on the go and when shopping we want convenience, options and preferably low prices. Over the years this has contributed to the production and consumption of a significant amount of plastic. People are now becoming increasingly aware of the fact that plastic waste is escaping into the open environment, from which it cannot realistically be collected for recycling, composting or anything else. And it is accumulating!

 

The purpose and use of plastic

Before we demonise all plastic use, one should keep a few points in mind. Firstly, there are different types of plastic. They are normally branded with different polymer identification codes or recycling symbols from 1 to 7.  PET plastic (#1) is one of them and is generally the type of plastic you find in soda bottles, water bottles and salad dressing containers.

Plastic packaging can prevent food wastage and sickness by protecting our food and water from contamination and damage. Plastic is also lightweight, shatterproof and robust and can be used instead of heavier materials. This helps when products need to be transported – saving on carbon emissions due to space and weight on trucks. While we await alternatives, in some cases plastic might be cheaper and more suitable than other materials.

 

Recycled plastic

Plastic can be recycled, but some types of plastic are easier to recycle than others. The potential use of the recycled plastic also varies depending on the type of plastic. PET plastic (#1) is one of the most recycled packaging polymer on the shelves. Recycled PET (rPET) can be used to make many new products, such as clothing, home textiles, automotive parts, roof insulation and new PET packaging. PET plastic bottles can be recycled into brand new PET bottles.

In Norway we recycle about 97% of all plastic bottles, where almost all are recycled into new bottles, due to our very efficient bottle deposit scheme. Hopefully, one will see more countries offer similar initiatives soon!

V or PVC (#3), polystyrene (#6) and other/miscellaneous (#7) are more difficult to recycle. It’s important to know that as plastic is cheaper than other materials such as metal and glass, recycled plastic is not always price competitive with other plastic, reducing the likelihood that it will be recycled. With the increase in consumer awareness from some industries the demand for recycled plastic is, however, luckily growing.

 

Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and then recycle

To reduce plastic waste in the environment we should all try to live by the waste hierarchy: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and then recycle.

 

Here are a few tips:

1. Take your own bags, cups and containers with you to the shops where possible. Where possible shop at zero waste shops like Unwrapped.

2. Learn about what the different types of plastic, the recyclability of each and make conscious decisions when buying.

3. Choose products that are designed to be recycled. This means that when they are initially designed, what happens to them post-consumer use has been considered. Some brands, like Lush, reward you when you return their packaging to them.

4. Buy products made by recycled plastic and help increase demand. There are quite a few awesome brands and products out there, including shoes from New Movements and swimwear from Weekday.

5. Buy products made by alternatives to plastic and choose brands that minimize the use of plastic when it comes to packaging. Check out BeeOrganic to find non-plastic alternatives.

6. Know how the recycling scheme works in your area, and recycle, recycle, recycle. According to Grønt Punkt, almost everyone living in Norway (95%!) is offered collection of plastic waste. How it is done varies depending on where you live. Some municipalities collect in colour-coded plastic bags, some use specific bins and some have specific pick up points. It is worth noting that only 36% of plastic waste is recycled, so there is definitely room for improvement. Plastic that can be recycled is often marked with this logo (this includes different types of plastic). Please note that plastic dumped in the environment or in landfills will never truly decompose but will over years break down to microplastic and contaminate water and soil.

7. And lastly, remember that doing something is better than nothing.

We’re all on the go and when shopping we want convenience, options and preferably low prices. Over the years this has contributed to the production and consumption of a significant amount of plastic. People are now becoming increasingly aware of the fact that plastic waste is escaping into the open environment, from which it cannot realistically be collected for recycling, composting or anything else. And it is accumulating!

 

The purpose and use of plastic

Before we demonise all plastic use, one should keep a few points in mind. Firstly, there are different types of plastic. They are normally branded with different polymer identification codes or recycling symbols from 1 to 7.  PET plastic (#1) is one of them and is generally the type of plastic you find in soda bottles, water bottles and salad dressing containers.

Plastic packaging can prevent food wastage and sickness by protecting our food and water from contamination and damage. Plastic is also lightweight, shatterproof and robust and can be used instead of heavier materials. This helps when products need to be transported – saving on carbon emissions due to space and weight on trucks. While we await alternatives, in some cases plastic might be cheaper and more suitable than other materials.

 

Recycled plastic

Plastic can be recycled, but some types of plastic are easier to recycle than others. The potential use of the recycled plastic also varies depending on the type of plastic. PET plastic (#1) is one of the most recycled packaging polymer on the shelves. Recycled PET (rPET) can be used to make many new products, such as clothing, home textiles, automotive parts, roof insulation and new PET packaging. PET plastic bottles can be recycled into brand new PET bottles.

In Norway we recycle about 97% of all plastic bottles, where almost all are recycled into new bottles, due to our very efficient bottle deposit scheme. Hopefully, one will see more countries offer similar initiatives soon!

V or PVC (#3), polystyrene (#6) and other/miscellaneous (#7) are more difficult to recycle. It’s important to know that as plastic is cheaper than other materials such as metal and glass, recycled plastic is not always price competitive with other plastic, reducing the likelihood that it will be recycled. With the increase in consumer awareness from some industries the demand for recycled plastic is, however, luckily growing.

 

Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and then recycle

To reduce plastic waste in the environment we should all try to live by the waste hierarchy: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and then recycle.

 

Here are a few tips:

1. Take your own bags, cups and containers with you to the shops where possible. Where possible shop at zero waste shops like Unwrapped.

2. Learn about what the different types of plastic, the recyclability of each and make conscious decisions when buying.

3. Choose products that are designed to be recycled. This means that when they are initially designed, what happens to them post-consumer use has been considered. Some brands, like Lush, reward you when you return their packaging to them.

4. Buy products made by recycled plastic and help increase demand. There are quite a few awesome brands and products out there, including shoes from New Movements and swimwear from Weekday.

5. Buy products made by alternatives to plastic and choose brands that minimize the use of plastic when it comes to packaging. Check out BeeOrganic to find non-plastic alternatives.

6. Know how the recycling scheme works in your area, and recycle, recycle, recycle. According to Grønt Punkt, almost everyone living in Norway (95%!) is offered collection of plastic waste. How it is done varies depending on where you live. Some municipalities collect in colour-coded plastic bags, some use specific bins and some have specific pick up points. It is worth noting that only 36% of plastic waste is recycled, so there is definitely room for improvement. Plastic that can be recycled is often marked with this logo (this includes different types of plastic). Please note that plastic dumped in the environment or in landfills will never truly decompose but will over years break down to microplastic and contaminate water and soil.

7. And lastly, remember that doing something is better than nothing.

More like this

关于更多

No items found.