Plastic is becoming a global problem. Due to this various plastic recycling and reusing procedures have been put in place. Plastic is everywhere. Ever wondered how much plastic we use in a day? or year? Well, Here is a small fact sheet that you might find interesting;
How MUCH Plastic do we use ?
- We consume over 350 tonnes of single use plastic in the United States alone
- Globally, the number reaches over one billion single use plastic
- Over 450 billion plastic bags are used globally
- The number translates to 1 million plastic bags per minute!
- In the year 2014, over 100 million plastic beverage bottles were sold in the United States alone.That is an estimated 315 bottles per person. The number is expected to have increased by 3 fold over the last 5 years.
Having seen the statistics above , it is evident that we use too much plastic in our daily routines. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of plastics is expected to have increased as more people are ordering in food and other items. The food and other items are mainly covered and put in plastic containers for ease of transportation. Furthermore, many people who use plastic bottled drinking water , have had to purchase pallets of drinking bottled water to sustain them during the lockdown. A vast amount of the plastic ends up in our oceans causing severe damage to the flora and fauna.
However, all is not lost as people are becoming more aware of the repercussions of using all kinds of plastic. Therefore, in many places recycling and reusing mechanisms have been put in place to ensure plastic dumping is reduced.
Which type of plastic CAN be recycled?
Recycling is an awesome way to reduce plastic waste by breaking down the used plastic and reshaping it into a new item that can be used again. It has been found to be the most efficient and ecofriendly approach to reducing plastic pollution. However, not all types of plastic can be recycled. You may be wondering , it is all plastic , isn’t? NO.
What are plastic? Well, plastics are chemical organic compounds that are used to make containers. These compounds are divided into synthetic and non synthetic. In light of this, here is the list of recyclable types of plastics;
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE)- They form the most commonly used form of plastic. They are used in fizzy drinks such as soda, bottled water bottles , mouth wash bottles and some yoghurt containers. They are the easiest to recycle and are converted to make other containers and polyester. However, you don’t need to remember the seemingly complex name. All PETE containers have a specific symbol for ease of identification. The symbol is as depicted below; it has a number “1” circled by arrows with the letters “PETE” under it.
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE)- This is the second most recyclable type of plastic. It is mainly firm and coloured. It is used to contain substances such as shampoo, milk and motor oil products. They are recycled to make more bottles. Similar to PETE, they also have a symbol that should be visible on the bottle. The symbol has number “2” circled by arrows with “HDPE” written under. However, its recycling is complex and one has to confirm whether they are recycled in your region
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)- This type of plastic is found in many wrappers. Maybe even used in the subway bun wrapper. It is also used in making plastic garbage bins and bags. It can also be found in zip bags and squeezable bottles. Just like all other types of plastic, any material containing this elements has a recycling arrows encircling number “4” and “LDPE” written below.
- Polypropylene (PP)- This is a plastic material used to make take away containers , some type of clothing , and ice cream containers. It is recycled to into fibres and other utilitarian materials such as brooms and rakes. Its symbol is the recycling arrows enclosing a number “5” and “PP” written below it.
Now that we are aware of the types of plastics that can be recycled , it is important to put them in the right containers for easier sorting and recycling.
Which type of plastic CANNOT be recycled?
It would be amazing if all the plastic in the world could be recycled. However, some of the plastic is either too dangerous or not economically viable to recycle. Here is a list of plastics that cannot be recycled.
- Polystyrene (PS)/Styrofoam- Our world is surrounded by styrofoam. It is a heat resistant element that is used in houses to keep us warm and in food containers to carry your delicious food. These types of plastics are advantageous as they are lightweight and bulky. These properties make them very unfriendly to the environment as they cannot be recycled. However, these types of plastics can be reused as containers and in some cases can be sold to some companies! Its symbol is made up of triangular arrows surrounding number “6” and “PS” written below it.
- Plasticised Polyvinyl chloride/Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)- You may have heard the term PVC from your plumber. And yes, that’s the type of plastic used to make some pipes and many other items such as plastic toys. It a major environmental and health hazard as it can easily combust. Its symbol is a triangular shaped arrows enclosing the number “3” and “V” written below it.
Despite these plastics not been recycled, they can be reused as they take longer than the recyclable plastics to get damaged. Infact, many people have resulted to using DIY methods to make decorative and functional items from these kinds of plastic materials.
Which is are the Various DIY ways of Recycling and Reusing plastic?
Recycling and reusing plastic should not be headache. It should be satisfactory and fulfilling outcome that not only gives you joy and brightens your environment. Plastics are strong and cannot be easily damaged. Their tough nature enables them to be manipulated or made into beautiful items. During this COVID-19 pandemic , engaging DIY plastic recycling and reusing is a fun way to keep yourself and family preoccupied. Here are some of the most trendy DIY plastic recycling and reusing tips.
Functional DIY Plastic Recycling and Reusing
Plastics form a very big part of the agricultural industry. Plastics are used in PVC pipes used in irrigation and as water retention reservoirs. However, DIY requires day to day use items such as drinking water plastic bottles and other containers.
Using the internet, through phones made from recycled material, one can search and identify suitable techniques to cultivate plants in these containers.
Using plastic containers, one can plant vegetables and other smaller plants for food. Also plastics can be used for irrigation and other farm related activities. These DIY will not only save money but also enhance productivity and health.
Plastic bottles also save space as they can be hanged and their compact size. Some can also be created to form a self watering system that reduces water wastage.
The plastic bottles can also be used as DIY sprinklers and green houses!
- Home and Living
Plastics are not limited to farming only. They can be used for an array of purposes to make sustainable living spaces. Recycled plastics can be used to build cheap homes for animals and people. Plastic makes the houses cheaper and saves the environment.
Plastic Bottles can be used to make the house more beautiful by planting lowers.
Artistic DIY Plastic Recycling and Reuse
Plastics can also be used for artistic purposes. Many environmentally conscious artists have been using plastic for their themes and more. Also reusing plastic for art is fun.
Making beautiful designs from recycled plastic is fun and can help pass the message of sustainability.
**Note: DIY projects require use of tools that can cause harm. Therefore, skilled persons should handle the tools and supervision provided for children**