Plastic is one of the most used materials in today’s world because of its properties as lightweight and durable material. Its popularity, however, is also its curse. We are using more plastic products than ever before and filling our landfills with plastic waste that does not biodegrade for centuries. Plastic recycling, however, is one of the easiest ways for you to be environmentally friendly, and recycling and lengthening the lifespan of plastic products are important for the health of our planet.
Many everyday items are made of plastic and are easily recyclable in most recycling facilities. Most common recyclable plastic products are beverage bottles used for water, soda and juice, plastic bags and plastic containers that come with many food products. Just wash all the plastic items and then separate them based on their resin identification codes.
Recycling plastic products saves energy that would have otherwise been used to make plastic products from virgin materials. Manufacturing plastics from recycled plastic products uses only two-thirds of the energy used to make plastics from virgin materials. In addition, recycling saves energy that is used to transport different materials for virgin plastic to countries and cities where finished products are manufactured or used. Energy savings are even bigger if recycling is done close to the area where recycled plastic is reused.
Oil is one of the components needed to make plastic. Decreasing the amount of plastic items manufactured from virgin materials conserves non-renewable fossil fuels and reduces CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Fossil fuel use is one of the biggest causes for greenhouse effect and global warming. In addition, reducing fossil fuel usage makes countries less dependent on imported oil.
Plastic products take a lot of space in landfills when discarded. Plastic fills about 11 percent of our household waste and without recycling it increases the amount of solid waste going to landfills. In addition, plastic products do not decompose in landfills, so they take space in landfills for centuries and contribute to the need of new landfills. If you recycle one ton of plastic items, you can save 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space and slow down the need to plan and build new landfills.
Plastic waste is also dangerous to marine life. Many marine species, especially sea birds, sea mammals and turtles, fail to distinguish plastics from food and die for malnutrition. Many marine species are also in danger to choke on plastic bags or plastic rings used to hold beverage cans together. The Pacific Ocean has a conglomeration of plastic waste, bigger than the state of Texas, floating in it and trapping and killing marine life. Recycling plastics prevents plastic items from getting to any waterways and further threatening vulnerable marine life.