We Earthlings: Recycling Plastic #1

We Earthlings

Did you know that recycling just one pound of plastic #1 (also labeled PET or PETE) saves 22.9 kilowatt hours of energy and 47.4 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over producing the same amount of plastic from virgin materials?

Plastic #1 may be best known for its use in the production of soda and water bottles, a common source of litter in the U.S. Yet the U.S. recycled just 29.1 percent of plastic #1 bottles and jars in 2017, and only 8.4 percent of plastics overall. Our planet is covered in plastic pollution. It’s past time to step up recycling efforts worldwide.

 

Poster: recycling plastic #1

Data sources: “Eco-profiles of the European plastics industry,” a report by I Boustead for PlasticsEurope (March 2005) and How Much CO2 Emissions Per kWh of Electricity?

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Comments

  1. Though we have a local county-run recycling center, it is still run like a profit-motive business. They will accept only #1&2 BOTTLES without lids… That’s it. None of the ubiquitous #1 packaging used by places like Walmart for most all of their baked goods, etc. It’s very frustrating as there is no alternative for some items.

    1. @WildLatin — You’re correct, recycling is a business. The real challenge is getting companies like WalMart to pay enough for recycled materials to support improvements in the system that could get the U.S. to a recovery and reuse level similar to Europe. After China stopped accepting our plastic, lots of plastic is not accepted. Frankly, it may not have been recycled before the ban, and the illusion that we handle plastic responsibly has been shattered. Now is the time for a new infrastructure and for consumers to demand more recycled content. And it is time to buy less plastic.

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