We Recycle Plastics, Including Shrink Wrap

Plastics play a vital role in our day-to-day lives – from keeping our homes warmer, to harnessing wind and solar energy, to lightweight packaging, to lighter vehicles and airplanes, to a myriad of other valuable products. Plastics Make It Possible, sponsored by America’s Plastics Makers™, showcases the many ways plastics inspire innovations that improve our lives.

Plastics Are Difficult to Recycle

Compared to glass, metal and cardboard, plastics are among the most difficult materials to recycle. The difficulty in recycling plastics is that, although many plastic materials look the same, there is a significant difference in their resin. You have probably noticed that the cap for a plastic bottle has a different feel and appearance from the plastic bottling for which it’s being used as a lid. Adding to the difficulty in determining the type of resin used in a plastic is the complexity of dyes and colorants.

When recycling plastics, mixing different types of plastics or resins is like mixing oil and water. It doesn’t work.

Resin Identification Code

To promote plastic recycling, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association has created seven categories of plastic resins.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE)

Properties: Clarity, strength, toughness, barrier to gas and moisture.

Common Packaging Applications: Soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles, peanut butter and jam jars, small consumer electronics.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

Properties: Stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas.

Common Packaging Applications: Water pipes, hula hoop rings, five-gallon buckets, milk bottles, juice bottles, water bottles, grocery bags, shampoo bottles, and toiletry bottles.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Properties: Versatility, ease of blending, strength, toughness.

Common Packaging Applications: Blister packaging for non-food items and cling films for non-food use. May be used for food packaging with the addition of the plasticizers needed to make natively rigid PVC flexible . Non-packaging uses are electrical cable insulation, rigid piping, and vinyl records.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

Properties: Ease of processing, strength, toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture.

Common Packaging Applications: Frozen food bags; squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard; cling films; flexible container lids.

Polypropylene (PP)

Properties: Strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, barrier to moisture.

Common Packaging Applications: Reusable microwaveable ware, kitchenware, yogurt containers, margarine tubs, microwaveable disposable take-away containers, disposable cups, soft drink bottle caps, and plates.

Polystyrene (PS)

Properties: Versatility, clarity, easily formed.

Common Packaging Applications: Egg cartons; packing peanuts; disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery; disposable take-away containers.

Other (often polycarbonate or ABS)

Properties: Dependent on polymers or combination of polymers

Common Packaging Applications: Beverage bottles and baby milk bottles. Non-packaging uses for polycarbonate: compact discs; “unbreakable” glazing; electronic apparatus housings; lenses including sunglasses, prescription glasses, automotive headlamps, riot shields, instrument panels.

We are Your One-Stop Shop

Plastics, the largest contributor of waste in the world, can literally take thousands of years to biodegrade. Our waste stream audit helps you better manage material flow. Company-wide industrial waste reduction and recycling programs divert waste material from landfills, which improves your cost savings, your carbon footprint, and your brand image.

Our team of industrial recycling experts will help you make money from your waste materials. Depending on your volume, Power Recycling can supply a baler for all your dry recyclables. Rebates are paid according to market value and depending on weight and volume. And to make everything easy, your dry recyclables can be placed on the same trailer as pallets.

Used plastics can be recycled to make new products like carpeting, clothing, building products, automotive parts, furniture, and so much more. Recycling plastics saves energy and reduces emissions. Per Keep America Beautiful, “Every pound of recycled PET plastic used in place of virgin material reduces energy use in plastic production by 84% and greenhouse gas emissions by 71%.” We can improve on our industrial recycling efforts. “In 2009, $485 million worth of plastic was wasted in the United States. That’s enough for 1,000 households to live on the U.S. median income for nearly a decade.”

However, because of the difficulty in recycling plastics, plastic is one of the least recycled materials. In 2012, only 9% of the plastic packaging manufactured in the United States was recycled.

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