Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Week Two--The 411 on Recycling Plastic, Metal and Glass

I can remember years ago when the only non-paper items that you were allowed to recycle were aluminum cans and glass bottles. Then PVC plastic popped onto the packaging scene, and soon enough recycling companies started taking plastic (though probably not soon enough for most environmentally minded folks).

The key with plastic recycling is that not all plastic is the same. Turn over any plastic bottle you have, and on the bottom you will find a chasing arrows symbol with a number in it. This explains what kind of plastic this container is made from and is your guide as to whether or not your recycler can accept it.

The most commonly accepted plastic bottles for recycling are PET (often #1) and HDPE (often #2). In real life these are soft drink bottles and peanut butter jars (PET #1), and water bottles and laundry detergent jugs (HDPE #2). As the "Better Living with Plastics" website says, all plastics with numbers 1 through 7 are recyclable--it's just up to your recycler as to whether or not they will accept them. (This website also gives a good rundown on what to look for in recyclable plastics.)

Don't forget: plastic bags like you would get from the supermarket, around dry cleaned clothes and from new mattresses are all recyclable. You can put them in recycled bag receptacles you typically see outside supermarkets.

As far as recycling metal goes, according to the Aluminum Association, two-thirds of all aluminum cans in the United States end up being recycled, and these days, post-consumer scrap metal is what largely feeds the making of new cans. That's why recycling your cans--whether through your curbside recycling program or a return-to-the-store collection process in bottle-bill states--is so critical.

Aluminum isn't the only metal that can be recycled. So can the steel cans that you probably have in your pantry and which you might refer to as tin cans. In reality they are made from steel and contain food stuff like soup, canned tomatoes and ground coffee. In fact, steel is the most recycled metal in the United States.

Finally, there is glass recycling. Truth be told in many instances plastic has overtaken glass as the container of choice (I almost fainted when a friend brought to dinner Pellegrino Mineral water in a plastic bottle instead of a glass one). Because glass is much more easily recycled than plastic and more universally accepted, whenever possible choose items in glass containers. Then, when you're done with them, if you can't figure out how to reuse the bottles, make sure that you toss them in your recycling bin.

1 comment:

George said...

You're missing a huge opportunity by not including recyclable paper products. Our recyclers here in Citrus County, FL and in Phoenix, AZ are accepting newspaper, magazines, paper back books, junk mail, etc. If you'd like more info on this, write me at gharbin14@gmail.com