Here at Seraphim Plastics, we are extremely proud of the fact that we recycle large volumes of industrial plastic waste every year. We are not alone. Other industrial plastic recycling outfits across the country do the same thing. And still, the vast majority of plastic we use in this country doesn’t get recycled. Contrast that with paper recycling.
The U.S. does a very good job recycling paper. The most recent government data we have show that American companies and consumers recycle about 68% of the paper we use. That amounts to some fifty million tons. Yet our efforts at recycling plastic do not even come close. They are a mere drop in the bucket compared to paper.
So what can we do? Is there any way to improve plastic recycling so that it is on par with paper? Absolutely. But it would require fundamentally changing how we produce and use plastic. Those fundamental changes are rooted in the following three things:
1. Designing for Recycling
The first thing is designing new plastics and plastic products with the intent to recycle them after the fact. That is not how we do things right now. Our current recycling system focuses on designing plastics for current needs and then worrying about recycling later.
Just this one simple change to design philosophy could make an enormous difference. By designing with the intent to recycle, we can also design out some of the things that currently get in the way of robust recycling efforts.
2. Improving Plastic Quality
The second thing that would put plastic recycling on par with paper is higher-quality plastics that can be reused multiple times without a significant loss in integrity. The paper industry has already demonstrated how beneficial the concept is.
Over the years, paper product quality has improved. Higher-quality paper can endure more recycling cycles so that less virgin material is needed to manufacture new products. We can do the same thing with plastic. Improving the quality of our plastics in order to extend their lives for as long as possible should improve recycling efforts.
3. Making Waste Elimination of Priority
Finally, the third principle involves combining the first two in order to make waste elimination a priority. We should want to design products with the intent to recycle them. We should want to improve quality so that plastics last longer. If we do both, one of the positive consequences should be waste reduction.
Eliminating waste can and should be the foundation of all recycling efforts. Here’s why: human activity will always produce some measure of waste and pollution. It is unavoidable. Try as we might, humanity cannot live on this Earth without impacting it.
However, if we make eliminating waste a priority, we will organically reduce the impact we have on our planet. Therein lies the secret. We have proven we can eliminate a lot of paper waste by improving product design and quality to promote recycling. Now we should apply the same thing to plastic.
You Can Do Your Part
We have a long way to go to get plastic recycling on par with paper. We are doing our part by recycling industrial plastics in seven states. You can do your part by letting us buy your scrap plastic rather than throwing it in the dumpster.
We purchase and recycle a complete range of plastics including pallets, totes, plastic purge, and even baled PET bottles. If you think you might have plastic we can use, contact us to learn more. Just note that Seraphim Plastics does not deal in any residential materials.