Special Collections Event May 3&4, Erickson All Sports Facility, 8am to 2pm


For Local Plastic Recycling,
Recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans at your areas 7-Eleven stores and the Parkersburg Recycling Center. Recycle your plastic shopping bags by dropping off at your area Kroger and Lowes store.

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Plastics Recycling

Plastics play an important role in almost every aspect of our lives. Plastics are used to manufacture everyday products such as beverage containers, toys, and furniture. The widespread use of plastics demands proper end of life management. Plastics make up more than 12 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from 1960, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream. The largest category of plastics are found in containers and packaging (e.g., soft drink bottles, lids, shampoo bottles), but they also are found in durable (e.g., appliances, furniture) and nondurable goods (e.g., diapers, trash bags, cups and utensils, medical devices). The recycling rate for different types of plastic varies greatly, resulting in an overall plastics recycling rate of only 8 percent, or 2.4 million tons in 2010. However, the recycling rate for some plastics is much higher, for example in 2010, 28 percent of HDPE bottles and 29 percent of PET bottles and jars were recycled.

Just the Facts

Plastic Bottles31 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2010, representing 12.4 percent of total MSW.

In 2010, the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging, almost 11 million tons as durable goods, such as appliances, and almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods, for example plates and cups.

Only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling.

In 2010, the category of plastics which includes bags, sacks, and wraps was recycled at almost 12 percent.

Plastics also are found in automobiles, but recycling of these materials is counted separately from the MSW recycling rate.

 

How Plastics are Made

Plastics can be divided into two major categories: thermosets and thermoplastics. A thermoset solidifies or “sets” irreversibly when heated. They are useful for their durability and strength, and are therefore used primarily in automobiles and construction applications. Other uses are adhesives, inks, and coatings. 

A thermoplastic softens when exposed to heat and returns to its original condition at room temperature. Thermoplastics can easily be shaped and molded into products such as milk jugs, floor coverings, credit cards, and carpet fibers.

Plastic Bottles Bundled

Plastics Recycling

According to the American Chemistry Council, about 1,800 US businesses handle or reclaim post-consumer plastics. Plastics from MSW are usually collected from curbside recycling bins or drop-off sites. Then, they go to a material recovery facility, where the materials are sorted into broad categories (plastics, paper, glass, etc.). The resulting mixed plastics are sorted by plastic type, baled, and sent to a reclaiming facility. At the facility, any trash or dirt is sorted out, then the plastic is washed and ground into small flakes. A flotation tank then further separates contaminants, based on their different densities. Flakes are then dried, melted, filtered, and formed into pellets. The pellets are shipped to product manufacturing plants, where they are made into new plastic products.

Markets for Recovered Plastics 

Markets for some recycled plastic resins, such as PET and HDPE, are stable and even expanding in the United States. Currently, the US has the capacity to be recycling plastics at a greater rate. The capacity to process post-consumer plastics and the market demand for recovered plastic resin exceeds the amount of post-consumer plastics recovered from the waste stream. The primary market for recycled PET bottles continues to be fiber for carpet and textiles, while the primary market for recycled HDPE is bottles, according to the American Chemistry Council. 

Looking forward, new end uses for recycled PET bottles might include coating for corrugated paper and other natural fibers to make waterproof products like shipping containers. PET can even be recycled into clothing, such as fleece jackets. Recovered HDPE can be manufactured into recycled-content landscape and garden products, such as lawn chairs and garden edging.

 

Source: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm