In a recent post, I asked where all the plastic we put out on our curbs really goes. Just like paper and metal, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic is easy to recycle and is profitable to resell. Number 1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is used to make many of the plastic bottles we obtain food and beverages in. When a strong material is required, No.2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is used for items such as cleaning supplies. The problem is in recycling plastics numbered 3 to 7, which include items such as those used for building materials, paper milk containers, yogurt containers, and Styrofoam cups. No. 7 plastic includes all other plastic containing chemical compounds, like bisphenol-A (BPA) and bisphenol-S (BPS), which can also have an effect on our hormones.
Two gentlemen, Rob Kaplan and Ron Gonen, are finding a way to recycle the plastics that currently end up in our landfills. In a recent article in the NY Times, “Putting Their Money Where the Trash Is,” David Gelles wrote about how these two men are lending money to build infrastructure to recycle specifically No. 3 through No. 7 plastics. A recent plant which opened in November of this year, Baltimore QRS Re-Poly, was built in Baltimore County using funding from their company, Closed Loop Fund. PepsiCo, the largest buyer of food-grade, recycled plastic in the US, supports the projects as it believes the amount of recycled plastic that is presently being produced is not enough. Building new facilities will help divert No. 3 through No.7 plastics from our landfills, and give companies greater accessibility to post-consumer products. My next question is: how much energy does it take to recycle the post-consumed plastic products?