Recycling, Transforming & Reusing Plastic
What does recycling mean? Seems a simple enough question but I have seen the term recycled plastic used for everything from the mechanical melting down of waste plastic to make a new products, to crafting lampshades out of milk bottles. Rather more controversially, it is also used to describe the process of burning plastic trash in waste incinerators and using the heat to produce electricity. The argument being that the plastic trash is recycled as electricity.
In the USA, Recycling is defined as “Using waste as material to manufacture a new product. Recycling involves altering the physical form of an object or material and making a new object from the altered material.” Burning is called Transformation, which “refers to incineration, pyrolysis, distillation, or biological conversion other than composting.” They are very different things.” As quoted from Treehugger
You can add to that
Reuse – when the original product is reused in a different way.
Recrafted or upcycling is the cottage industry version of the above.
N.B. Let’s be clear about this recycling is just a more responsible form of waste management. That stuff in your recycle bin is still rubbish and has to be dealt with the attendant environmental and financial costs. While recycling may offset these costs it is still expensive. Moreover recycling does not address the main issue of misusing plastic and stupidly using it to make one use throwaway items. The best waste is no waste.
Recycling is altering the physical form of an object or material and making a new object from the altered material.
There are many different types of plastic. It is important to know what they are when recycling. Most plastics are marked with a plastic code or a number identifying the type of plastic. This information is used by recyclers.
Mechanical Recycling – very simply, consists of melting down the old plastic and using it to make new products.
Chemical recycling where plastics are actually dissolved back into their original chemical components. These are then cleaned up and reused to make new plastics
Recycling in the U.K.
- Recycling provision in the UK
- Which plastics are recycled in the UK
- plastic codes and collection rates
- Recycling statistics for the UK
- Plastic recycling – the law
Recycled Plastic Products can be found here 5.21 Recycled Plastic Products
Plastic to Energy 5.4 plastic To energy
- Incineration – burning, sometimes as a fuel in a waste to energy plant
- Gasification – resulting in a gas (!)
- Pyrolysis – plastic to fuel
- Thermal depolymerization (TDP) – plastic to fuel
Reuse & Recrafting Waste Plastic
Reuse – when the original product is reused in a different way. Like shredding trainers down into playing field surfacing. Find some great ideas over here 5.4 Plastic trash reused
Recrafted or upcycling is the cottage industry version of the above. Have a look at what these talented folk have done over in the arty crafty part of this blog 2.2 Plastic Crafts and check out my PINTEREST board. Lovely but by no means the answer.
Recycling is greenwashing ?
The focus of this blog is the plastic rubbish created by our addiction to disposable products. As a result I sometimes sound dismissive of recycling. While it certainly has a role to play, and is better then the alternative ways of disposing of plastic, it IS NOT solution for overconsumption of plastic. Recycling does not address the main issue of misusing plastic and stupidly using it to make one use throwaway items. Just because a product can be recycled (or upcycled), is no reason to create plastic rubbish.
Recycling and Reusing waste plastic – a discussion
The best response to plastic trash is to REFUSE IT and find a compostable alternative.
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