Know your Plastics
It’s really quite chilling once you become aware of the levels and layers of plastic tolerance in our everyday life. Know Your Plastics is about raising awareness around those little numbers so you are empowered to make better choices. Did you know that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050? Since 1996 our Australian population increased by 28 per cent but our waste generation increased by a ridiculous 170 PER CENT.
The numbers that identify types of plastic make up the ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System. This system is more commonly referred to as RIC. The system was developed in 1988 by the Plastics Industry Association, but has been distributed by ASTM International since 2008.
RIC helps to identify what kind of plastic resin was used to create the product it is on. It also helps guide the us as consumers on our recycling responsibilities.
Types of Plastic – An Overview of Numbers 1 through 7
Number 1 – PETE
RIC 1 – also referred to as PETE, represents polyethylene terephthalate. This is a plastic polymer frequently used in soda bottles, plastic tote bags, carpeting, furniture, and panelling. Plastic products that have the 1 symbol on them are often accepted through curbside recycling programs offered in cities and towns across the country.
Interestingly enough, PETE plastic is semi-porous and absorbs the colour of the product within it. This is important because most PETE plastic, when recycled, is used in the creation of lower grade plastic products. More than 80% of marine based rubbish is derived from land based disposal.
Number 2 – HDPE
High Density Polyethylene
HDPE is the abbreviation for the second RIC number and stands for high-density polyethylene. This plastic is commonly used to create cleaning supply bottles, plastic shopping bags, milk jugs, and playground equipment. It’s even used in the recycling bins that end up being filled with other plastic products. The Composting Council recommends we make use of HDPE in our efforts to reduce food waste.
HDPE’s main ingredient is petroleum which makes it highly resistant to solvents.
This means that it is perfect for many long term applications including: corrosion protection for pipes, gas tanks for vehicles, and frames for long-distance backpacks. Recycling Number 2 is accepted through most curbside pickup recycling programs though some have certain specifications that recyclers must follow.
Number 3 – PVC
PVC is an abbreviation most people are familiar with and have encountered at least once in their lives. Polyvinyl choloride (PVC) is one of the common types of plastic used in piping, window frames, shower curtains, and toys. This plastic, which is the third most highly produced in the world, after polyethylene and polypropylene, is harder to recycle.
Number 3 plastics must be taken to a facility in order to be properly recycled. Curbside programs will not pick up PVC, but with a quick call to a plastic resin processing company, consumers can continue to help the environment and keep plastic out of landfills.
** HANDY HINT **
If you are ready to go further with your #zerowaste #plasticfree lifestyle, you can check out this amazing article that offers a complete range of alternatives to what you might currently be using.
Number 4 – LDPE
Low Density Polyethylene
LDPE is another plastic that consumers see in their day-to-day lives. This low-density polyethylene is both flexible and durable. Additionally, LDPE can be produced in variations that are opaque or transparent. Because LDPE withstands heat, it is perfect for the production of grocery bags and six-pack can rings. The downside to Number 4 plastic is that it isn’t often accepted through curbside programs.
While there are many at-home uses for grocery bags, this drawback has driven grocery stores across the country to start offering incentives for consumers to return and reuse grocery bags in order to keep them out of landfills.
Number 5 – PP
Polypropylene or PP is number 5 plastic. This plastic variation is one of the safer forms of plastic currently on the market which makes it perfect for food storage. Many food containers including ketchup bottles, yogurt tubs, and Tupperware are made from PP plastic. Some curbside recycling programs accept Number 5 plastics, but the plastic must be cleaned of all food waste before it can be accepted.
Polypropylene plastic is also used in the creation of polymer banknotes like the newly minted and colorful $100 bill (USD). By creating banknotes out of PP instead of paper, it is possible to add additional security features which make counterfeiting the bills more difficult.
Number 6 – PS
Number 6 plastic, or Polystyrene (PS), is used in a wide variety of products that are not commonly recycled due to their long lasting nature. These items include: CD cases, smoke detectors, frames for license plates, and different types of scientific lab equipment. Polystyrene comes in additional forms that include but are not limited to hard, sheet plastic. For example, polystyrene foams are used in insulation as well as packing products. And expanded polystyrene is also used in packing, but in the form of “peanuts” or plastic framing to create stability within boxes. An increasingly number of curbside programs are accepting Number 6 plastics due to the high amount of uses that it has.
Number 7 – Other
All Other Plastics
The final plastic number, 7, represents all other plastics besides the types described above. Some plastics that fall under number 7 include: acrylic, nylon, and bioplastic. These plastics are often used in car parts or car accessories and are not usually recycled in the traditional sense. The objects made by number 7 plastics can often be reused, or “upcycled,” and kept out of a landfill. Some curbside programs are now accepting these plastics, but not many.
Know Your Plastics
And the Types of Plastics you should try to avoid!
There are differing estimates of how much plastic waste has been produced in the last century. One way to know your plastics, one billion tons of plastic waste has been discarded since the 1950s. Others estimate a cumulative human production of 8.3 billion tons of plastic of which 6.3 billion tons is waste, with a recycling rate of only 9%.
Much of this plastic may persist for centuries or longer, given the demonstrated persistence of structurally similar natural materials such as amber. This is a great reason alone to Register for Plastic Free July.
The presence of plastics, particularly microplastics, within the food chain is increasing. In the 1960s microplastics were observed in the guts of seabirds, and since then have been found in increasing concentrations.
The long-term effects of plastic in the food chain are horrifying. In 2009, it was estimated that 10% of modern waste was plastic, although estimates vary according to region. A massive 50-80% of debris in marine areas is plastic!
Know Your Plastics
Most plastics are durable and degrade very slowly, as their chemical structure renders them resistant to many natural processes of degradation.
Know Your Plastics
Know Your Plastics
5 Benefits of Using a Stainless Steel Straw
- Reusable – A stainless steel straw can be used as many times as you wish, and it will never lose its quality. This not only saves your money from forking out on plastic drinking straws but also helps keep the environment free from toxic plastic that can really impact on our efforts to save the planet.
- Long Lasting – Thanks to the sturdy stainless steel material, these metal straws will last for years to come. Plastic straws are prone to cracking and they’re only good for one use – that’s why we are raising awareness. Once you have a set of stainless steel straws you’ll never need to buy wasteful plastic drinking straws again.
- Versatile – Unlike plastic straws, extra wide stainless steel straws have a sturdy frame making them ideal for a range of beverages from thick smoothies to protein shakes to iced tea. Due to their strength, you could even stick one directly into an orange for fresh juice straight from the source!
- Keep your drink cool – Reusable drinking straws made of stainless steel have the unique ability to retain the temperature of your drink as you use it; something that your plastic drinking straw could never do. Because the stainless steel is inert it won’t affect the flavour of your drink at all, an added bonus!
- Free from Chemicals – According to reviews, BPA has been known to seep into food and beverages causing a range of medical problems. Although common in many plastics and other materials these days, stainless steel is completely free from BPA. Rose Gold metal straws are chemical free and won’t taint your drink with anything toxic so your health and zero waste remains a priority.