Is it worthwhile to recycle plastic or not? I have been reading mixed opinions, and I am confused.?
Best use for plastic bottles would be to use them as fuel in an incinerator that produces electricity.
Or better yet reuse them just as Terracycle does.
It is confusing because it's bad either way.
Recycled plastic products often contain more virgin materials than new plastics and they take up a lot more energy to produce.
Plastics are not biodegradable, but they do break down by sunlight (in 500-2000 years). Since we have so so much of plastics, they are likely to be mummified underground (beyond mankind). So many people try to keep it out of the landfill by recycling them.
My area has a landfill crisis, so I opt for recycling them. But the most important part about the discussion on plastic is try NOT to consume them in the first place.
update: I found these clips from Penn & Teller.
Noodles is right about trying not to use it at all, but the other statements are not factual. By recycling plastic, you are reusing the petroleum used to create the product rather than landfilling it, and also using far less energy to create something new. Recycling is MELTING, not SMELTING or mining or drilling. FAR less energy is used to make something new out of something already created. The energy savings from using recycled plastic vs. raw material is 70%! For more information, go to the EPA website and the Container Recycling Institute website. Look for facts rather than opinions. Any plastic going into the landfill is throwing away the embodied energy used to create it. Energy use also creates green house gases. Recycling reduces pollution, too.
I might add that plastic has a re-sale value. Remanufacturers like the Mohawk Company will buy it and turn it into carpeting. Other companies make it into fleece, like Patagonia. Go to their websites and find out! The industry supports good paying manufacturing jobs in the US and needs the feedstock.
Why pay money (yes, disposal is NOT free) to throw away something that is worth money? Why throw away the 6.25 million barrels of oil used to create PET single-serve bottles in the US like many did last year, when it can be captured and reused?
Of course, Noodles has the best answer, though, particularly related to plastic bottles: bring reusables from home and try not to buy plastic containers whenever possible!
Plastic - Recycled plastics are made into motor oil bottles, detergent bottles, pipes, pails, carpets, rulers, benches, pallets, fiberfill, nonfood bottles or containers, and even clothing.
* Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from virgin raw materials.
* Five 2-liter recycled PET bottles produce enough fiberfill to make a ski jacket; 36 recycled bottles can make 1 square yard of carpet.
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