Recycled plastics are part of the solution to ecologcial transformation, yet many people and businesses still have their reservations.
In the UK, 5 million tonnes of plastic is used every year and currently, only a quarter of it is recycled. Producing and incinerating plastic is energy-intensive, and contributes to 3.4% of the globe’s greenhouse gases. Reducing, reusing and recycling plastics is imperative to achieving ecological transformation.
However, despite this, many people have reservations surrounding using recycled materials in their industry. We have chosen 5 common misconceptions about recycled plastics and provided some top-level answers to better the understanding around them.
Myth #1. “Plastics are difficult to recycle for reuse”
Plastics are made up of several polymer types, which makes them difficult to recycle as each would require a different method to break down into recyclable forms. Our partner, Veolia, has specialist centres with state-of-the-art technologies that are able to separate polymers. In short, plastics are shredded into flakes and then produce a homogeneous mixture that undergoes a series of separation processes, allowing the categorisation of each polymer.
So whilst plastics are difficult to recycle for reuse, with the right tools and expertise, they can be pretty efficient.
Myth #2. “They require the same amount of energy to produce”
Recycled plastics require 75% less energy than producing new virgin polymers. They also reduce CO2 emissions by 60%, meaning your carbon footprint is significantly reduced when you implement recycled plastics into your products and processes.
Myth #3. “Recycled plastics aren’t as good quality”
The polymers used in recycled plastics are the same polymers as the once virgin plastic item. The separation processes discussed earlier ensure the polymers keep their desirable properties to create new products of the same quality and standards, including even the highest standards of food-grade plastics.
Myth #4. “There is a limited application for recycled plastics”
Plastic is a versatile material, and that doesn’t change for when it has been recycled correctly. As mentioned above, plastics are composed of several polymers and you wouldn’t use the same combinations for a garden chair, for example, as you would a drinks bottle. For each use case, there will be a specific recipe that needs to be created so that the end product will be suitable for its intended purpose. In fact, our PlastiLoop service, which produces tailored, circular polymers, caters for a variety of industries including automotive, textiles and even agriculture.
Myth #5. “Customers don’t care”
Actually, according to the global Buying Green report by Trivium, 67% of consumers believe it is important that the products they buy are in recyclable packaging, with 55% associating plastic as “harmful”. 83% of consumers of the younger generation even showed a willingness to spend more on recyclable packaging.
Consumer attitudes are changing. The climate crisis is evident and consumers want to be a part of the solution.
It is clear that recycled plastics are an essential component in the fight against the climate crisis. In this article, we have debunked some common myths surrounding the use of recycled plastics and have shown that proper recycling can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. As a commercial waste service provider, we are committed to supporting businesses in transitioning to more sustainable practices. If you are interested in incorporating recycled plastics into your operations, please don’t hesitate to request a service form with Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services today. Let’s work together towards a greener future.
This article first appeared on our partner’s, Veolia, blog which you can read here.