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News Plastic Recycling: Pros and Cons

Plastic Recycling: Pros and Cons

November 16, 2020     News

Advantages of Recycling Plastic

  1. Some simple and common types of plastic products can be profitable and economic to recycled – compared to other plastic types and plastic products, PET bottles can be simple and profitable to recycle in some markets.
  2. Plastic Recycling benefit: better recycle plastic with new breakthroughs in the types of plastic being produced – regular plastics usually either can’t be recycled or can only be recycled a certain number of times. Newer plastics that can be recycled many times over are in development. One example of this type of plastic is PDK plastic (poly-diketoenamine).
  3. Recycling tends to create more jobs than landfills and other options in some economies – in some cities, recycling can create up to 20 more jobs than landfill (but this is for all waste – the figures for plastic alone are not known at this stage).
  4. Plastic has a number of ways to be repurposed via recycling – different plastics can be repurposed for different applications, such as textiles, insulation, chairs and benches, and so on
    Recycling plastic is more eco friendly in some ways than other waste management options – although it can depend on the local context, recycling plastic, according to a range of studies, has the lowest global warming potential and energy use compared to landfill and incineration
  5. Some sources indicate recycling plastic saves resources – When we use recycled plastics to make new plastic products, we conserve more than materials. We can reduce energy usage by 66%.
  6. For every one ton of plastic recycled, we save the equivalent of 3.8-7.6 m3 of gasoline.
  7. There’s still more potential to better recycle plastic with continual advances and improvements in recycling facilities and their technology – the technology used in recycling facilities, and the capabilities of these recycling facilities differ from city to city globally. Recycling technology and facilities can continually be improved and upgraded to make recycling a better option in the future.
  8. Some sources indicate curbside recycling programs can be cheaper than general waste programs – properly managed curbside recycling programs can cost anywhere from $50 to $150+ per ton. Trash collection and disposal programs can cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 per ton.
  9. There’s good demand for certain types of plastic and plastic products (like LDPE and LLDPE) in the US – as showed by recyclers in California and Seattle.

Plastic Recycling benefit is obvious. It helps build a better ecological society with less pollution.

recycled plastic regrind

Drawbacks of Recycling Plastic (Plastic Recycling Cons)

Does plastic Recycling benefit weigh more than its drawbacks? Continue to find out more.

  1. Plastic recycling rates tend to be low for individual plastics and in total – for example, in the US, some of the highest plastic recycling rates for plastics #1 and #2 are around 35-45% from some estimates. In total, Less than 15 percent of the plastic used in the U.S. is recycled. Global plastic recycling numbers are similar.
  2. Plastic degrades in quality every time it is recycled – every time plastic is recycled, the plastic fibres are shortened and weakened, which leads to a lower quality material that is less durable and lacks performance or adequacy in key areas.
  3. Recycling plastic still means that plastic is being produced somewhere – the production of plastic usually uses fossil fuels like petroleum and/or natural gas as a feedstock to make the plastic material. Additionally, plastic products may use plastic packaging for transport or store the product, before the plastic is bought and used, and then sent for recycling. So, recycling doesn’t get rid of issues like these.
  4. One plastic recycling cons is being used somewhere, which can have harmful effects – the use of some plastics may involve the leaching or release of chemicals or hormone disruptors, amongst other potential issues.
  5. Plastic can usually only be recycled a limited number of times before it ends up in landfill anyway – depending on the type of plastic or plastic product, plastic might only be able to be recycled between one to nine times before it can no longer be recycled anymore.
  6. Not all plastic is recyclable – some types of plastic and some types of plastic products are non-recyclable, or can only be recycled in specific circumstances. Some types of plastic are also rejected from recycling facilities for various reasons.
  7. Plastic packaging is one of the most common plastics produced and one of the most common plastics that become waste, but isn’t highly recyclable – it’s more of the hard plastics that are recyclable. But, this is an issue when recycling doesn’t necessarily suit one of the most common plastics and plastic wastes.
  8. Recycling plastics overall has many variables in each city and country – It’s a system dictated by market demand, price determinations, local regulations and government, the success of which is contingent upon everyone, from the product-designer to the trash-thrower, to the waste collector, to the recycling factory worker.
  9. Plastic recycling isn’t always economical and profitable – Plastic is a material that is usually cheaper and more profitable to make new from virgin materials. Also, plastic as a material usually doesn’t have the market value of other materials like metal for example. The market demand can go up and down, oil prices can fluctuate, and different local markets can have different factors that influence the recycling of plastic.
  10. Even recycled plastic has new plastic material added in – Each time plastic is recycled, additional virgin materials must be added to help improve the integrity of the material.
  11. There’s a debate over whether producers, or citizens and taxpayers should pay for recycling costs – some claim it should be the responsibility of businesses and manufacturers to redesign products to include less plastic, or include more recyclable plastic, but pay for it out of their profits.
  12. There isn’t a big enough incentive in some places to recycle plastic – for households, policymakers, and corporations. It’s easier, saves more time, and is more profitable to go with the status quo.
  13. Households and businesses don’t always dispose of their plastic in the right way to be recycled, and can get confused about what can and cannot be recycled in their city or town – households and businesses may throw the wrong plastics into their recycling bin. Do not always think Plastic Recycling benefit. And, because recycling programs differ around the world and around countries, people can get confused as to what and how they can recycle.
Plastic Recycling benefit

Double shaft shredder for plastic recycling


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