First and foremost, we most certainly want to encourage recycling! We’re 100% for re-using things multiple times and cutting back on the things we throw away. That’s just being a mindful member of the community.
However, the sad truth is that less than 15% of plastics actually get recycled – even if you lovingly put them in the blue bin like we do. Just because it has a triangle recycling symbol on it doesn’t mean it’s accepted for recycling where you live. That’s actually a resin identification code for manufacturers. Kind of misleading, right?
Recycling is a for-profit industry, and so recyclers tend to sort the most valuable after-market plastics (currently dominated by plastic PET #1 beverage bottles and HDPE #2 milk jugs) and toss the rest. In fact, outside of beverage bottles, on average only 1/2 a truckload of PET gets recycled annually per recycling facility in the US, meaning all those clear food containers, clamshells and blister packs in your blue bin aren’t going anywhere fun. Compare this to the fact that one truckload of garbage arrives at a landfill every 18 seconds and the issue starts to become pretty clear.
Coupled with the reality of “downcycling”—the fact that plastic delivers declining performance each time it’s processed and must eventually be discarded—recycling fossil fuel-based plastics can only ever be part of the answer.
With this in mind, we focus on the building blocks of the plastics we’re using to make our products and packaging to minimize materials that cannot biodegrade into inert elements. In addition, all our products and packaging can all be used to make new products – it’s just a matter of whether your local recycler accepts them.
We’ve pulled our recycling info from the latest EPA report on Sustainable Materials Management. An interesting and eye-opening read, you can find the full report here.