We used the occasion of a previous blog post to add a little bit of perspective to a recent Greenpeace USA report detailing the failures of consumer plastics recycling. We later discovered that a single post wasn’t enough to express all our thoughts. Consider this post a follow-up.
After reading what Greenpeace USA had to say, we looked into how others in our industry were responding. Our search led us to a pretty good piece published on the Waste 360 website. Our main take-away from that piece? There is more to plastic than just food packaging.
We Recycle Industrial Plastic Scrap
Regular Seraphim Plastics customers know that we don’t deal in any consumer plastics. About the closest we come are PET bottles. But even at that, we only recycle pallets of baled bottles. PET makes up just a portion of what we handle. We also buy and recycle:
- collapsible plastic bins
- buckets, and dunnage trays
- plastic tubes and pipes
- scrap plastic cutoffs
- plastic purge
- pallets and totes.
We are pretty much after HDPE, HMW, and polypropylene materials. If it is industrial plastic and already sorted, we’re interested. You can sell your scrap plastic to us rather than adding it to the waste stream.
Plastic Packaging Isn’t Everything
The interesting thing about recycling discussions is that they rarely take into account industrial plastic recycling. Critiques like the Greenpeace USA report focus almost exclusively on single-use plastics – and food packaging at that. But according to the folks at Waste 360, packaging accounts for just 40% of the total plastic waste.
No doubt that an awful lot of plastic food packages end up in the trash. No doubt some of that plastic ends up in waterways or as roadside litter. But what about the remaining 60%?
Waste 360 correctly points out that there are many discussions about recycling plastics that have nothing to do with food. They mention things like plastic furniture, the plastics used in electronics, and synthetic plastic fibers that are manufactured for the express purpose of making clothes and carpets.
There Is a Lot More to It
All this means is that there is a lot more to consumer and industrial plastic recycling than meets the eye. Even if we all agreed that the waste generated by producing so many single-use plastic food packages is a problem worth tackling, we cannot let that single issue define an entire industry.
Plastic is one of the most amazing materials human beings have ever come up with. Most people may not know it, but plastic is a huge contributor to the modern economy in ways we don’t often think about. Plastic is largely responsible for revolutionizing mass production. It is largely responsible for supplying us with cheap consumer goods.
Without plastic there would be no such thing as a circuit board. And without circuit boards there would be no cell phones, computers, streaming devices, DVD players, and on and on. The extent to which the world depends on plastic is staggering if you step back and look at the whole picture, instead of just focusing on single-use food packages.
Recycling Does Work
Despite the terribly negative tone of the Greenpeace USA report, reality proves that recycling does work. The fact that the successes of industrial plastic recycling are never mentioned by those who would seek to eliminate plastic suggests that maybe recycling isn’t the real issue.
Regardless, we will keep doing what we have always done here at Seraphim Plastics. If you have industrial plastics to sell in any of the seven states we operate in, contact us for a quote.