How many types of plastic can be recycled?
Over 50 different types of plastic exist, but only 7 or so of these can be widely recycled. Thankfully, these 7 plastics are usually the ones we come into contact with the most. The list is as follows:
PP: polypropylene is primarily used in making business and household items such as boxes, crates, containers, buckets and flower pots.
How many times can these plastics be recycled?
The majority of the time, all of these plastics can only be recycled once from problems breaking down materials during the recycling process. At the recycle plant, the plastic is shredded and melted which breaks down the plastic polymer chain. If you’re lucky, they might be able to survive one more recycling, but that’s about it. One common misconception is that plastic can be recycled over and over again. However, this is usually spewed as a justification to continue manufacturing plastic products rather than switching to different materials.
The fact is that plastics lose their quality when they’re recycled a number of times. This is why most plastics get broken down and used to make up parts of other products – like clothing to reach a circular economy. If you recycled a plastic bottle and used it to create another plastic bottle, then it would be of worse quality. The more you recycle plastic, the worse it gets. As such, the majority of plastics only get recycled once and then used in other products that can be used for longer and avoid going into landfill sites.
It’s essential to be aware of the different types of plastic as you need to know what products you can recycle or not. Also, be wary that recycled plastics often won’t be able to be recycled again.