Recycling is something that has become entwined with many people’s daily lives. For the sake of caring for the environment, many businesses have taken the necessary steps to ensure their employees dispose of their waste properly. Those concerted efforts play a part in the larger picture and help the state of the ecosystem as a result. However, a few obstacles still get in the way of some people’s habits. Check out these five common myths that keep people from recycling.
All Plastic Is Recyclable
While it’s good to assume that you can recycle all of your plastic, the truth is that there are limits to certain types of plastics and how reusable they are. There are seven different classifications of plastic that are good to be aware of. These categories allow others to understand the properties of that specific plastic type and how reusable it is. You can determine what type of plastic an item contains by looking for the three-arrowed symbol. The usual three arrows have a designated number in the middle. That number relates to the types listed below.
Polyethylene terephthalate is a commonly recycled plastic used for soda and water bottles along with different kinds of containers. While this plastic type lasts around five to 10 years, it’s easily usable for most things besides hot liquids.
High-density polyethylene is another commonly recycled plastic used for thicker containers, like milk jugs or shampoo bottles. This plastic lasts nearly 100 years and can take more extreme conditions than PETE plastics.
Polyvinyl chloride isn’t a recycled plastic and doesn’t decompose after a set period. While there are specialized programs to repurpose PVC plastic, only 1 percent is salvageable in the end.
Low-density polyethylene plastic is another kind that you won’t commonly recycle, and plastic wrap and thicker shopping bags contain it. LDPE lasts up to 1,000 years and is durable in high heat and low temperatures.
Polypropylene is common in things like prescription bottles or some car parts, and it lasts up to 30 years. This material is uncommonly recycled, and it can withstand extremely high temperatures but struggles in the cold.
Polystyrene plastics last up to 50 years and are commonly recycled, but the process is difficult and specialized. This material is typically for things like foam cups and egg cartons.
Anything that falls out of the prior categories falls into the others section. Things like baby bottles or CDs are unfortunately not highly recyclable.
Recycling Doesn’t Make a Difference
Sometimes your contributions to your outdoor recycling bins feel like a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. However, the combined actions of other individuals end up making a bigger splash as a whole. Recycling is one of many methods to help mitigate the consequence of continual material production in other industries. While the world tries to take some measures against companies that leave waste due to their production methods, it’s not always the case for some. When you recycle, you’re preventing unnecessary waste.
These items then go back into the production cycle for consumers and reduce the need for making something brand-new. Conserving the energy needed to create those new items increases the more often people recycle. Big impacts grow slowly over time. While a single water bottle doesn’t feel like a big help, it’s one of many contributions to the environment.
You Need To Sort Recyclables
You don’t always need to sort your recyclables. This other recycling method is single-streamed recycling. Single-streamed recycling is when all recyclable materials, such as papers, plastics, and cans, go through the same processing cycle. While this isn’t necessarily the most optimal process, it increases recycling participation the most. When deciding whether to separate your recyclables, the answer is often no, as most processing plants use the single-streamed method.
However, in cases where your local processing plant accepts separate containers, this is the best method to try if you’re willing to put in the work. At the end of the day, most people opt for the single-stream method as it’s less work. Due to single-streamed recycling’s noticeable participation rate compared to separation, communities typically take what they can get. After all, any recycling is better than none at all.
It’s Unnecessary To Clean Your Waste
Some recycling centers don’t require individuals to clean their recyclables and take on the task of cleaning for themselves. However, removing the bulk of food residue on your items is still a good idea, as not all centers wash them. It’s not necessary to completely scrub things like water bottles and containers. Instead, giving it a quick rinse or shake is normally enough to get it up to standard.
Luckily, any extra residue left on your recyclables typically won’t mitigate the recycling process. High heat burns most of it off, and anything left is brittle and disappears later down the line. It’s best to clean your recyclable containers lightly, even if your local plant does a fair bit of washing on its own. The less work they need to do, the more likely it is that your waste can find new life as something else after the process ends.
You Can’t Recycle Items Multiple Times
Many people assume they can’t recycle something that has already gone through the recycling process. This isn’t true for some materials. Things like metal and glass can go through the process several times without seeing a decline in quality. Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t always fall within that category. The most important thing to remember is that regardless of its recycling ability, it’s good to dispose of any waste properly. Plastic water bottles have a relatively short lifespan, whereas we can reuse soda cans countless times without fail.
Taking care of the environment and reducing your impact on the ecosystem isn’t always about going out and making drastic changes to your life. By performing small acts through your day-to-day activities, doing your part becomes a thoughtless activity and makes a big impact. These five common myths that keep people from recycling are worth considering the next time you wonder whether it’s worth it to recycle or not.