Since the first plastic recycling mill was created in 1972, the plastic recycling industry has slowly adapted to become the environment-sustaining industry it is today. Although we’ve come a long way in the last 45 years since the humble beginnings of plastics recycling, there is always room for improvement. Current figures from the EPA estimate that, worldwide, we only recycle approximately 34 percent of all the waste created. So, how can we improve upon that figure? At KW Plastics, we are passionate about providing sustainable solutions to the world’s largest brands. We are equally passionate about recycling education! Here are some tips for recycling plastic that can help us increase the percentage of waste recycled each year.

To Rinse or Not Rinse?

Many people believe that their plastic must be thoroughly and completely rinsed in order for it to be eligible for recycling. Some people may even tend to shy away from recycling a plastic item because they don’t have the time to rinse out any residual food or product from the plastic container. These beliefs are what lead many recyclable plastic items to end up in the landfill versus a plastic recycling plant. So, do you have to rinse? The answer is not necessarily cut and dry and can depend greatly on where you live. Many times, you local trash and recycling collection company will mail out information giving recycling guidelines for many materials. If you haven’t received such information, contact your local trash pick up company and ask. Plastic that hasn’t been rinsed properly can potentially contaminate thousands of other recyclables. At KW Plastics, quality is of the utmost importance and we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Know Your Plastics

Not all plastics are created equally! We’ve all seen the little triangle made up of three arrows looping back on themselves, and typically there is a number in the middle of the triangle that identifies what kind of plastic the container is manufactured from. In a prior post, we discussed the various types of plastic and whether or not they are accepted by most curbside recycling programs. There are certain plastics that are considered safer than others to recycle, namely plastic containers bearing the number two (high-density polyethylene), four (low-density polyethylene), or five (polypropylene). While the other varieties may be recyclable, they may not be readily accepted by your local trash collection company. Be sure to check with your local provider to clarify what they will and will not accept prior to assuming it can be recycled.

Make it Convenient

Let’s face it: most of us are creatures of habit. If something gives the perception that it’s overly complicated or hard to do, it’s unlikely that most people will make the effort to do it. Here are a couple of tips to make plastic recycling more convenient.

  • Place your recycling bin in a convenient location. If you have room in your kitchen, this is likely to be the most convenient place given it is usually the hub of every home. If you don’t have room in the kitchen, consider the garage or basement. In either case, try to place your bin somewhere that makes it readily accessible.
  • Post recycling guidelines near the recycle bin. If you contact your local recycling provider and get the details on what is and is not recyclable, be sure to write it down and post it near the recycling bin for reference. This will eliminate unnecessary, repeat calls to your recycling provider and encourage proper recycling.
  • Partner with a friend or family member. If your local community doesn’t offer a recycling program, or if you are unable to take your recyclables to the nearest facility, partner with a friend or family member who does have access to a recycling program or facility. In this instance, all you have to do is sort and collect your recyclables for regular pickup as arranged.

Based in Troy, AL, KW Plastics is the world’s largest plastics recycler and a leading nation-wide plastic resins distributor. If you have questions about plastic recycling, or need to purchase quality resin for your next manufacturing job, call us today!