Plastic is one of the most versatile materials in the world. However, due to its mass production, plastic waste is an ever-growing concern.
Industrial companies that produce plastic waste are commonly faced with the environmental impact of plastics. Most of the world’s plastic ends up in landfills and can take up to 500 years to decompose. This has led to increasing awareness around the importance of plastic recycling and sustainable solutions.
Despite its growing awareness, there are still myths surrounding the industrial plastic recycling process that may discourage companies from embracing the concept.
In this blog post, we debunk five common myths about industrial plastic recycling. Plus, provide you with the facts you need to make informed decisions about your recycling practices.
Myth #1: Most plastics aren’t recyclable.
Many of the plastics used in industrial recycling can be recycled, as long as they’re properly identified. PET, HDPE, LDPE, and PP plastics can be recycled to create new products or reused for manufacturing the same product. Quincy Recycle alone recycles over 150,000,000 pounds of plastic per year from our customers.
Some items, like plastic water or soda bottles may seem like the more obvious candidates for recycling. However, these aren’t always found at the industrial level. The shrink wrap (or stretch film) that surrounds your products or pallets qualifies as recyclable. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to worry about taking the label off first.
Plastic drums and buckets that fall under one of the four previously mentioned categories are also candidates for industrial recycling. Quincy Recycle does not require drums and buckets to be fully rinsed and dried before recycling. However, we do ask that they be empty.
Manufacturers are commonly misinformed about the steps involved in recycling. There doesn’t have to be a huge labor difference between disposing waste or recycling it, which brings us to our next myth.
Myth #2: Industrial plastic recycling requires a significant amount of time and labor.
One of the biggest concerns we receive from customers before they partner with us is a lack of labor. You may be surprised to know that some waste management plans don’t actually require more labor than you currently have.
Consider this: what happens to your scrap plastic now? Is it thrown into a dumpster and then picked up to be hauled away to a landfill?
Instead of throwing it into the trash, toss it into a recyclables bin instead. Quincy Recycle will then pick up that bin for you. We’ll even provide and pick up a trailer designed for mixed commodities. This way, you won’t need to spend time separating your recyclables.
Larger companies and manufacturers may be interested in a full-scale recycling program. In this case, we offer industrial recycling equipment, such as balers and compactors. These machines do require manual operation, but can usually be run by only one or two people at a time.
As far as additional time, our experts help companies optimize their recycling process so that it seamlessly integrates into the manufacturing process. Once employees are properly trained on the use and safety of the equipment, handling recyclable waste simply becomes another step in an eco-friendly waste management plan.
Myth #3: Recycled plastic isn’t used to actually make anything.
Some people believe that the idea of recycled plastic is a myth in itself. There simply aren’t enough people or manufacturers around the world making the effort to recycle their scrap plastic. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported in 2022 that only 9% of the world’s plastic is successfully recycled.
However, this number does continue to grow. When processed and applied effectively, recycled plastics have proven to offer a comparable level of strength, durability, and flexibility as virgin plastics. Virgin plastic is still continuously being used to create products in mass production, but some manufacturers have committed to producing products from recycled plastics.
These products include:
- Lumber Decking and Patio Furniture
- Fiber for Carpet
- Paint Buckets and PailsAutomotive Parts and Accessories
- Garbage Bags
- New Soda and Water bottles
- Agricultural Drainage Tile and Piping
- Shipping Pallets
- Fiber for Clothing and Footwear
Patagonia has established itself as a leader in recycled plastic production. Their website states,
“For the Spring 2023 season, 87% of our polyester fabrics are made with recycled polyester. As a result of not using virgin polyester, we avoided emitting more than 4.4 million pounds of CO₂e into the atmosphere.”
Other major companies, like Adidas, have established recycled materials programs within their original manufacturing processes. Businesses are making an effort toward change, and your industrial plastic scrap could help contribute to sustainability-made products.
Myth #4: Plastic recycling is not cost-effective.
Another common myth about industrial plastic recycling is that it is expensive, and it increases manufacturing costs. In reality, industrial plastic recycling can significantly reduce manufacturing costs and energy consumption. When compared to processing virgin plastics, recycled plastics use less energy, water, and resources. This decreases production costs and carbon footprints over time.
For non-manufacturing companies, plastic recycling is just as much about cost avoidance as it is about landfill diversion. It’s no secret that recycling helps decrease landfill costs. The less waste collected in the trash means less landfill hauls.
As far as cost avoidance, recycling costs largely depend on the location, the volume of materials, and method of collection. Recycled plastic can offer more value than other recycled materials, such as paper or fiber. Once your business has established a reliable plastic recycling program, the cost of recycling can be reduced significantly.
Myth #5: My company is too small to make a difference, or too large to implement recycling across all plants/stores.
No matter your business size, recycling plastic scrap will make a difference for the future of our planet.
Recycling also doesn’t have to start out as this huge project with multiple moving parts. One of the benefits of a waste audit from Quincy Recycle is that we analyze your current waste streams, and make suggestions on processes you currently have. Each business is unique, and our recommendations are created from evaluations and data from your specific operation.
Smaller companies may benefit from a mixed commodity trailer, while larger companies could start with recycling equipment or processes at a pilot store to test efficiency. Rental and lease programs help alleviate up-front costs associated with equipment purchases. Employees at smaller manufacturers can be trained to incorporate the waste management process into their daily routine.
Every step made toward sustainability reduces the negative impact on our environment.
Shedding light on the common misconceptions about industrial plastic recycling will help businesses initiate greener practices within their facilities. While implementing an effective recycling program takes effort and resources, the benefits of recycling plastic, reducing waste, lowering carbon emissions, and conserving natural resources, are certainly worth the investment.
Implementing a plastic recycling program can be a simple and straightforward process. Quincy Recycle offers on-site consultations and can provide businesses with the equipment and resources they need to get started. Additionally, once your recycling program is set up, we’ll help you maintain it with the right training and support.
Getting started with an industrial recycling program is easy. Contact us or give us a call at 800.311.6097 to talk to a representative in your area. Quincy Recycle currently has eight locations throughout the Midwest, but our partnerships extend nationally.