Plastic #5 Recycling Got You Feeling Blue?

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Do you have difficulty finding recycling locations for plastic #5 in your community? Although polypropylene packaging is used for hundreds of products, a limited number of communities have curbside #5 plastic collection to make it easy for residents to recycle this common household waste.

You’ve probably got plastic #5 in your refrigerator or medicine cabinet right now. Common packaging made from polypropylene includes containers for:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cream cheese
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Margarine
  • Hummus
  • Medicine bottles
  • Some plastic ice cream containers
  • Food storage and take-out containers

If your community doesn’t have curbside polypropylene recycling, don’t despair. Rather than trashing these resources, you can recycle them at Whole Foods locations across the country, now added to the Earth911.com database.  Preserve,  a company working with Whole Foods to collect polypropylene, recycles these materials into useful products, like cutting boards, plates, toothbrushes, razors and cutlery.

Don’t have a Whole Foods near you? Preserve offers a number of mail-in programs to help keep your polypropylene out of landfills and in the recycling stream.

According to Preserve, their recycled plastic #5 uses at least:

  • 54 percent less water than virgin polypropylene
  • 64 percent less greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than virgin polypropylene
  • 75 percent less oil than virgin polypropylene
  • 48 percent less coal than virgin polypropylene
  • 77 percent less natural gas than virgin polypropylene
  • 46 percent less electricity than virgin polypropylene

Preserve uses life cycle inventory (LCI) datasets to “detail the inputs and outputs of recycled and virgin polypropylene – everything used to make polypropylene as well as all the waste created by the manufacturing process (including water usage, energy usage, pollutants, etc.). These datasets allow Preserve to understand the environmental differences between virgin polypropylene and [their] particular recycling process for yogurt cups shipped from the middle of America, 1500 miles, to [their] reprocessor.”

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