WHAT IS IT
Plastic scrap includes more than the household plastics recycled at your curb (bottles, food containers, etc.). Process scrap is plastic scrap that is produced as a by-product of the manufacturing process, such as trimmings and leftover materials. Industrial and commercial plastic scrap can also result from plastic products that have been used by a business but are no longer needed. Examples might include plastic pails and buckets, shipping containers, signs, pallets, and wraps.
Crushed and baled plastic bottles ready for recycling. Photo by RecycleHarmony, August 29, 2012. Courtesy of Flickr.
HOW IS IT USED
Recycled plastics can be found in all sorts of everyday items, including carpets, bottles, trash cans, golf bags, traffic cones, house siding and more. Different kinds of plastic are turned into different things – for instance, foam packaging often becomes insulation, picture frames or more foam packaging, while plastic drink bottles often become new textiles like shirts, sleeping bags, and ski jackets.
Recycled HDPE plastic ready to be made into lumber. Photo by Shanemurphy22, August 24, 2010. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
WHAT IS ITS VALUE
ISRI estimated that at least 5 million tons of post-industrial and post-consumer plastics were recycled in 2016. Using recycled plastic to produce new plastic products reduces the energy required by 66%! While it costs approximately $4,000 to recycle one ton of plastic bags, the resale value of those recycled bags is more than twice that and recycling one ton of plastic can save up to 2,000 gallons of gasoline.
Plastic shreds for recycling. Photo b Martin Gautron, March 4, 2019. Courtesy of Flickr.
It takes up to 500 years to decompose plastic items in landfills.
11% of household waste is plastic.
In 1941, Henry Ford made a car from agricultural plastic known as “The Soybean Car.” Sadly, there was only ever one.