In many ways our current issues with recycling are tied to the perplexing world of plastics. They both are inherently convenient and troubling.
We’ve come to rely on plastics in almost everything we do. Look around your home or office. They likely make up your wall-to-wall carpet and seat cushions on your couch; they fill your closet in nylons, fleece and polyester; they make up a large portion of the wheels on your car, the bristles on your toothbrush, the computer keyboard you pound on. Not to mention the many types of plastic we rely on to hold our food and beverages. They certainly are useful.
But plastics have a darker side. In general, all plastics are made from a petrochemical feedstock like those coming from crude oil refining and crude oil itself, as well as natural gas refining. In the U.S., the government isn’t able to assess exactly what kinds of feedstock are used to make the plastics we put our mouths on when we drink through plastic straws.
Added to the plastics are certain kinds of resins that give them their characteristic shape and structure.
Those triangular “recycling” logos with numbers in them tell you what kinds of resins make up those plastics. Many of these resins are made with chemicals that can be toxic, so it’s important to understand what the resin codes mean.
*Featured image by Stacey Evans