How To Recycle Plastics Into Useful Products
T-Shirts Made From 60 Plastic Bottles Each
How to Recycle Plastic
The US Federal Government has set a standard to attain in recycling plastics of various types in America. That standard is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as 25% of our plastic wastes. Actually, this is much too low a figure, because plastics do not decay. They do not go away. In fact, they have migrated from landfills and rivers and other sites down to the oceans and created a new continent in the South Pacific.
Bricks Made From Plastic BottlesClick thumbnail to view full-size
From Plastic to Polyester
Plastic Bags Have Become a Monster
I have seen pictures of parts of China where people have literally thrown millions of plastic bags onto the ground. They do not evaporate. This continent is growing and is too large to be destroyed.
Hopefully, governments of the region as well as private sector businesses will use this monster as a base for organic growth. They might consider it bedrock and place soils on top of it and culture plants, even food crops.
I hope that someone figures out a way to make something like this happen safely. Human beings can turn nightmares into fulfilled dreams, so I look forward to it.
Plastic Bag - Famous Short Movie
Recycling Plastics In America
Not all plastics, but many, can be placed for recycled at community drop-off bins around your local county. In Columbus, Ohio the school system added such bins to several of our city school's parking lots.
Many plastics are stamped or embossed with a number from 1 to 7 inside a triangle on the bottom of the container. This number tells us if the container can be recycled.
You can call your local city or county offices, especially if they have a central recycling center, and ask what types of plastic you can recycle. 1-800-CLEANUP is a centralized national too free number to call to find your state recycling information.
The Recycling Process at Home Or at Work
Rinse all the plastic containers and sort them by triangle-number types 1 through 7.
You do not have to remove the labels in Ohio. Some cities tell you that you don't have to sort it the plastics, either, so call City Hall and find out for certain.
Put Type 1 and Type 2 plastic containers at your curbside if you have local pick-up service; if not, take them to a drop-off bin. Types 1 and 2 are usually plastic store and wrapping bags, soap/detergent bottles, and milk bottles, soda bottles, juice bottles, vegetable oil bottles, and water bottles. Michigan pays 10 cents per soft drink bottle, so use the recycling machines inside Wal-Mart and other stores.!
You can conveniently place your grocery plastic bags (often Type 4 and 2) at the grocery in a bin just inside the front entrance. These bags ar4e often turned into sturdy plastic benches placed outside the stores.
Plastic foam packaging is Type 6 and may need a separate place to drop it off, considering your city or county, so call and find out for sure.
Many people throw out Type 3 plastics (food wrap), Type 5 (yogurt cups, syrup bottles, bottle tops) and Type 7 (misc.). Some of these are recyclable, so I take them to the local university recycling bins or trash containers, because they are up to date on the newest recycling techniques, and sort even the trash for recyclables. I produce very little trash to begin with, so this is not a hardship on the university, where I do my research.
For More Information
- American Plastics Council
Recyling Plastic for Benches
My Favorite Recycling
Recycled Plastic Lumber
Good uses of Plastic Lumber(RPL)
- Agriculture/Gardening: Vine stakes, ranch fences, gates, animal stalls, fences, flower pots, compost bins.
- Building: Retaining walls, roof shingles, walkways, railings.
- Commercial: Flooring, pallets, truck flooring.
- Recreation. Park benches, picnic tables, playground equipment, info booths, boardwalks, wetlands walks, decks, foot bridges, decorative "stone."
- Transportation. Noise barriers, sign posts, guard rail sections, speed bumps.
- Marine applications: Piers, pilings, seawalls, bulkheads, docks.
Other Uses of RPL:
- Glass-reinforced plastic lumber.
- Mixed rubber-plastic lumber.
- Mixed plastics with peanut shells.
- Mixed plastic-metal pipe.
- Plastic-steel reinforcing rods.
- Plastic reinforced concrete.
Significant Government Uses
- National Parks Service: Cavalry stables.
- City of Sacramento: Boat bumpers.
- U.C. Davis, Student Housing: Dorm benches.
- Don Pedro Recreation Agency: Railing.
- Many Others
In Ohio, grocery store plastic bags are recycled into park benches that are sturdier and can hold a larger number of individuals and even heavier-than-average persons than the previous wooden benches used. Weather does not destroy these recyled plastic benches.
These comfortable plastic benches are seen at grocery stores and retailers such as Giant Eagle, Kroger's, Wal-Mart, and other groceries around the state.They are beginning to be placed along sidewalks in business districts around Ohio as well. The benches would make a good replacement for the uncomfortable narrow, metal benches now in use at many bus stops.
The recycled plastic benches are also slowly replacing the old wooden and the crumbling concrete benches in city and state parks. I've seen people of average weight sit on one of these weather-worn wooden benches, only to have it collapse and injure them, so plastic benches are a good safety device.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS