Are Plastic Salad Containers Recyclable?
Are plastic salad containers recyclable?
Why are plastic salad containers often not recyclable, and how can we encourage communities to recycle these ubiquitous items? While many recycling facilities accept a range of hard plastic containers and packaging, as well as overwrap and plastic bags, a deeper examination of the fine print on those recycling guidelines reveals that plastic salad bowls are not recyclable. In this blog, we also have best salad container that you might want to see.
How Come I Am Unable To Recycle Plastic salad containers?
The quick answer is that you absolutely can to recycle it! However, the procedure is somewhat more involved than with other polymers. Salad clamshells are branded with the same Number 1 and chasing arrows sign as the rest of the plastics you just recycled, so you’d assume they’d be handled similarly. However, salad containers have been molded, which makes the plastic more brittle, difficult to reuse, and less useful as a raw material.
Clamshells are thermoformed from polyethylene thermoplastic (PET). The majority of plastic bottles and jugs are likewise composed of PET but are thermoformed rather than blow molded. Due to the fact that various procedures produce varying grades of PET, recycling center personnel must physically sort these sorts of plastic containers.
PET that has been thermoformed is normally regarded as a pollutant with little, if any, market value and is suitable for disposal or incineration exclusively. This is why the majority of recycling facilities would first refuse to take the containers: to minimize contamination, more work, and higher expenses.
How Large Is The Issue?
Clamshell containers made of plastic are often used to store salad mixes and fresh fruit, as well as snacks like dried fruit and nuts. These containers often include labels that are difficult to remove due to their strong adhesives, complicating recycling. Additionally, the containers have a lower bulk density and produce finer particles when processed than plastic jugs and bottles.
Around 79 percent of plastic produced on a global scale is not recycled, and the tiny percentage that is recycled is far from certain. This is because a number of nations (for example, China) that formerly imported plastics for recycling have now prohibited such imports. As a result, plastic is often burnt instead.
Incineration, rather than landfilling plastics, is the most effective technique to minimize the amount of leftover organic materials while recovering some embedded energy. Incinerating PET and other polymers, on the other hand, releases hazardous compounds into the air, including dioxins, poisonous carbon, and oxygen-based free radicals.
The good news is that while PET is theoretically recyclable regardless of its grade, some recycling programs accept plastic clamshells. According to one source, the United States recycled more than 100 million pounds of PET thermoform material in 2018. This is only a small proportion of the annual quantity generated for packaging.
What can you do?
The first step is to familiarize yourself with your local recycling regulations. If they tell not to recycle plastic clamshells, please do so. This helps prevent contamination of otherwise recyclable plastic and improves the overall effectiveness of recycling systems.
If there are no suitable choices nearby but you have space to keep this kind of plastic, consider doing so in case new facilities come online or if you go to another location where bulk plastic recycling is available. Alternatively, try buying a TerraCycle plastics recycling box (View on EarthHero), which you can fill and then return to TerraCycle, where personnel sort and recycle the plastics.
What Companies Are Doing
To address plastic waste, several businesses have experimented with biodegradable bioplastics. However, are they really more environmentally friendly? Perhaps not.
Although polylactic acid (PLA) containers are theoretically biodegradable, they must be processed in industrial facilities. As you may have predicted, such facilities are almost as few as those for recycling #1 plastic clamshells. According to a 2019 survey from BioCycle, only 53 composting facilities in the United States accepted BPI-certified compostable bioplastic products.
Even though salad containers made of PLA may be composted, it is not apparent if they are more eco-friendly throughout the course of their life than traditional plastics. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviewed 18 years of lifecycle assessments and discovered a greater impact associated with the manufacture, use, and composting of compostable bioplastic materials, compared to non-compostable items and those that were recycled, incinerated, or disposed of in landfill.
One key explanation for biodegradable packaging’s presumably larger environmental effect is the possibility for a greater burden connected with the manufacture of raw materials utilized in these goods. Composting is also a “very inefficient technique of retrieving nutrients or value inherent in human-made items such as packaging,” the paper notes, particularly when compared to recycling.
The optimal solution for plastic salad containers
Thus, the best alternative for purchasing pre-packaged salad greens may be to hunt for recyclable plastic containers. Even if they cannot be recycled in their whole, they contribute to the overall reduction in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions connected with manufacturing.
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