Try recycling plastics

After a presentation I did about recycling to one of my classes, one of the questions was “How do I know which plastics are recyclable? Sometimes I don’t know and I just throw them all in the bin.”

The answer to that question wasn’t always as easy as it is now. To determine what is and isn’t recyclable, it’s important to know the collection regulations in the area you live in. From town, to city, to province the regulations can be different because it depends on who is responsible for the collection, who is paying for the collection, whether there are waste management facilities in the area and what they collect.

To determine which plastics are recyclable, it’s as easy as looking at the bottom of the container, jug, or bottle to look for the Möbius loop, AKA the recycling triangle.

The numbers inside the triangle are indicative of the type of plastic from which the container was made.

In Manitoba, we can recycle all plastic containers with a recycling triangle on the bottom.

According to Green Manitoba this means: All used, ready-to-serve beverage containers, including beverage containers made of aluminum, glass and plastic, PET, HDPE, and cartons (juice boxes, and gable-top cartons) can be recycled

311 says: Plastic recycling:
o all food and beverage containers (e.g., jars, cans, bottles, cartons)
o plastic containers with a recycling triangle (e.g., bottles, pails, tubs, jugs)
o plastic packaging with a recycling triangle
o leave all lids on containers and bottles

There are 7 different types of plastic. Each one is different from the other in weight, composition, use, and recyclability. Plastic #1 and #2 are the most commonly used and recycled plastics in Manitoba. Numbers 1-5 are recyclable in your curbside (at-home) recycling program.

Miller Environmental Corporation operates both a hazardous waste transfer station in Winnipeg, and hazardous waste treatment facility in Montcalm. They accept a variety of recyclable materials that are not accepted in the curbside recycling program.
Miller Environmental Corporation
1803 Hekla Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R2R 0K3
Phone: (204) 925-9600
Fax: (204) 925-9601

Knowing which products are made from which plastics is important when it comes to recycling. It helps us better understand which containers we can recycle!

#1 – PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
• One of the most commonly used plastics.
• Found in most water and soft drink bottles, and some packaging.
• Intended for single use applications.
• Is completely recyclable.
• Can be recycled into fibers to make textiles: the plastic is crushed and shredded into small flakes. They then create new bottles, or spin the flakes to make fibers. This fiber is used to make items including: fleece clothing, carpets, and fiberfill for winter jackets.

#2 – HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene
• Hard plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent and oil bottles, playground equipment, and some plastic bags.
• HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic.
• Does not break down under exposure to sunlight or extremes of heating or freezing, and is used to make products like picnic tables, recycling bins, and benches.

#3 – PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
• PVC is a soft, flexible plastic used to make clear plastic food wrap, cooking oil bottles, and tubing.
• It is commonly used to make plastic pipes and parts for plumbing.
• Not easily damaged by sunlight and harsh weather, it is used to make products like window frames and garden hoses.
• Do not use PVC products for storing or eating food or for children’s use.

#4 – LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene
• Is often found in shrink wraps, squeezable bottles, and plastic bags.
• When recycled, LDPE plastic is used for plastic lumber, landscaping boards, garbage can liners and floor tiles.

#5 – PP – Polypropylene
• Is as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals.
• Keeps products dry, fresh, and protected.
• Is used for disposable diapers, pails, cereal box bags, straws, auto parts and rope.
• Is reusable and recyclable

#6 – PS – Polystyrene
• Is most often used to make disposable styrofoam drinking cups, take-out “clamshell” food containers, egg cartons, plastic picnic cutlery, foam packaging and video cassettes.
• Recycling for polystyrene products is not available in Manitoba.

#7 – Other – BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN
• Reusing and recycling is not recommended within this category.
• Is found in acrylic, fiberglass, nylon, baby bottles, electrical wiring.
• May contain BPA

For more information:
http://www.babygreenthumb.com/p-122-safe-plastic-numbers-guide.aspx
http://eartheasy.com/blog/2012/05/plastics-by-the-numbers/
http://garbage.speakupwinnipeg.com/2011/03/recycling-what-do-we-collect-and-where-does-it-go/

-Enjoy the ride.

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