Plastic Recycling Guide: What Can and Cannot Be Recycled

Most households make an effort to recycle plastics once they are done with them. However, their efforts may go to waste if the wrong plastics are recycled. Here’s our helpful guide to recycling plastics.

Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastic and reprocessing it into useful products. Recyclable plastics, once collected, are sorted, cleaned, shredded, and melted into pellets, which can then be used to manufacture new products contributing to a more sustainable future. 

Unlike paper, the vast majority of plastic is non-biodegradable, recycling is a part of global efforts to reduce plastic in the waste stream. 

Non-Recyclable Plastics 

Some plastics, such as certain types of film and flexible packaging, are non-recyclable plastics because they can clog machinery. Polystyrene and certain plastics labelled #3, #6, and some #7 cannot be recycled in most jurisdictions. The numbers are resin identification codes and indicate the type of plastic. Some are more easily recyclable than others. 

Why Some Plastics Can’t Be Recycled 

Complexity of materials, presence of additives, and economic factors contribute to the non-recyclability of some plastics. Sorting and cleaning plastics can also be resource-intensive, making it unfeasible to recycle certain items. 

It’s worth checking on the plastic product if it can be recycled as some common items, such as plastic bags, cannot always be recycled.  

Sustainable Plastic Alternatives 

Opt for products made from materials like biodegradable paper such as Sylvicta, glass, metal, or compostable bioplastics. Reusable containers and products with minimal packaging can also be good alternatives. 

Reducing Plastic Waste 

You can reduce plastic waste by using reusable bags, bottles, and containers, choosing products with less packaging, and by recycling whenever possible.  

Technological advances like chemical recycling and enzymes that break down plastics are on the horizon, offering hope for more efficient recycling processes. 

Individuals can make a difference in the plastic waste problem by making informed choices about consumption and disposal, and by advocating for better recycling practices and policies.  

Looking for more? Read our ultimate guide on composting paper. 

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