With non-recyclable plastic waste threatening our planet’s survival, it is becoming the most pressing environmental emergency. Nothing less than an SOS is needed to address the devastation and destruction of our earth due to these plastics, setting us on the path to a future that is far from the pollution, destruction, and damage that non-recyclable plastic waste causes.
Plastic is present in the life of every human being in the world. Although not everyone knows that not all plastics used on a daily basis, can be recycled. Expanding the information further, 91% of the packaging we discard every day is made of non-recyclable plastics. The reality is that only 9% of them can be reused again.
There are different types of plastics
There are thousands of kinds of plastics, which are categorized according to their composition. A soda bottle does not have the same composition as a cell phone cover, a disposable cutlery or the sheathing of cables. Even the screw cap of the soda does not have the same composition as the container.
However, of all that variety, plastics are divided into 7 different types. The Society of the Plastics Industry created this classification in 1988. Some of them are recyclable, others are only partly recyclable, but most of them are impossible to recover.
What are the non-recyclable plastics?
Many plastics are not recycled because of the use they were put to, such as those used to contain polluting materials or from the pharmaceutical and medicinal industry.
Others, when used, are mixed with glues or resins, which are very difficult to separate. Likewise, colored plastics, whose pigments damage recycling machines, are also not recycled.
When plastic waste is exposed for a long time to the sun and other climatic factors, it degrades in such a way that it cannot be reused. Some, such as PVC, present in water or sewage pipes, release toxic materials when recycled. Some types of plastics are so costly and polluting to recover that they cannot be recycled at all.
There is also another type of non-recyclable plastic, which includes aluminum. It is used in the packaging of potato chips, cereal bars or chocolates, for example. Due to negligence, they pollute the atmosphere when incinerated; others end up in the oceans and dissolve into microplastics that contaminate marine life.
Costs are also an issue
The plastic labeled number 1 and most common worldwide is polyethylene terephthalate, more commonly called PET. It is the one used in soft drink containers, and is a 100% recyclable plastic. On the other hand, those catalogued from number 3 to 7 are of low value and are not recyclable.
However, there is a cost problem, which has not yet been solved. Since the virgin material is cheaper than the one coming from recycling. Plastic is a direct derivative of the petroleum industry and its international price fluctuates constantly. Although these fuels are generally subsidized, which makes virgin raw materials cheaper than recycled ones.
Only the removal of subsidies and an effective international regulation on the good use of plastics, can give positive results. But, for the moment, corporate interests are winning the battle.