Plastics: Why We Should Reduce Before Recycling

8445427139_a71600feef_z(1)Plastics are strange materials. They come from a synthetic, or partially synthetic material made from polymers that don’t really ever go away, or biodegrade. When burned, plastics form extremely toxic chemicals, and when buried they just sit in landfills.

Unlike glass, plastic cannot be infinitely recycled. The same plastic material is generally recycled once, or twice at best, and then becomes unusable (unrecyclable). Sadly, in the end plastics are eventually sent to landfill, or worse, they end up in our oceans. This is why it is extremely important to reduce our plastics consumption altogether, and reuse and recycle what we already have to prevent further extraction of virgin materials. The process of extracting non-renewable reserves of oil and natural gas out of the ground, manufacturing these resources into plastic products, and then releasing them back into the air contributes to climate change and the surplus of CO₂in our atmosphere.

When it comes to types of plastics accepted in Recology recycling programs, we refer to rigid plastics only. This includes items like plastic bottles, plastic laundry baskets, and food containers. Thin, soft plastics (LDPE plastic), including plastic wrap and plastic bags, are not accepted in our blue bin programs. LDPE is particularly difficult to recycle because of the damage it causes to machinery in municipal recycling programs; this soft plastic gets caught in the wheels and gears and can break the machines that are running to sort bottles, cans and paper. However, many grocery stores collect clean, dry plastic bags made of LDPE and send them to recyclers who turn them into new film plastic or infrastructure like plastic lumber, parking bumpers and road signs.

What plastics are ACCEPTED in the BLUE cart?

play dohcupfood containerrigid plasticsmeasuring cup

Plastics, #1-7, are accepted (a few exceptions listed below).

  • Plastic bottles and bottle caps (OK to leave plastic caps on)
  • Plastic tubs and lids (yogurt containers)
  • Plastic cups and lids, including disposable lids
  • Clear clamshell food containers
  • Molded packaging and bins
  • Plastic buckets
  • Plastic toys (SF only) as long as they do not have metal parts, batteries, circuit boards or wiring

All materials placed in the blue cart should be 80% rinsed/clean, without food or liquids.

Plastics we DO NOT accept:

plastic wrapplastic bagPlastic bag_Purple2

  • Plastic bags
  • Thin plastic wrap & films
  • Styrofoam
  • Rubber gloves
  • Snack wrappers
  • Tetra Paks
  • Black plastic (San Mateo County only – SF accepts)

For a more detailed list of accepted materials, please visit your local Recology service provider website:

Compost Oregon Recology Ostrom Road
Feather River Organics Recology Pacheco Pass
Jepson Prairie Organics Recology Peninsula Services
Nature’s Needs Recology Portland
Recology American Canyon Recology San Benito County
Recology Ashland Sanitary Service Recology San Bruno
Recology Auburn Placer Recology San Francisco
Recology Blossom Valley Organics Recology San Mateo County
Recology Butte Colusa Counties Recology Silicon Valley
Recology CleanScapes Recology South Bay
Recology Del Norte Recology South Valley
Recology Dixon Recology Stockton
Recology East Bay Recology Sunset Scavenger
Recology Environmental Solutions Recology Vacaville Solano
Recology Golden Gate Recology Vallejo
Recology Hay Road Recology Ventura
Recology Humboldt County Recology Western Oregon
Recology Los Angeles Recology Yuba-Sutter
Recology Mountain View Recycle Central @ Pier 96
Recology of the Coast South Valley Organics
Recology Oregon Material Recovery
Recology Oregon Recovery

One Response to “Plastics: Why We Should Reduce Before Recycling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *