Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year’s Resolution: No More Petroleum Plastic – Switch to Compostables

Make 2014 the year you get petrol plastic out of your business and switch to compostable products.

Petroleum based plastics are just bad for the environment. No nice way around it. Did you know that the majority of recycled plastic collected was sold and shipped to China? We’ve been exporting our scrap for 20 years. China used to gobble it up and scrap became our largest export to China. Well China decided they want to clean up this act and instituted Operation Green Fence. Most of this was implemented to reduce the amount of contaminated product. Why the change? Well in part it’s due to the switch to easy single stream recycling in the US where you can just mix everything you recycle into one bin? Guess what… that increases the amount of contamination because people tend to just toss anything plastic in the bin without checking to see if it is actually recyclable.

China’s change has hit recyclers hard.

If their shipment of recyclables gets to China and has too many contaminants (limit is 1.5%) in it, the shipment is refused. WOW ! Now they have paid to ship it from the US to China and no buyer. That means they have to find a new buyer and pay to have it shipped again. Usually that means it goes to some other Asian location where the tightly bound bundle gets torn apart, and sorted the way it should have been done in the first place to remove any contaminants.
The impact has been huge. US Recyclers are not set up to sort this stuff and cannot afford the risk of it being rejected, so the recycled waste is piling up. Many areas ran out of room so have to send it to the landfill. The good news is that this change is forcing a lot of recyclers including municipalities to put in the sorting systems needed to keep recycling clean! It will take time, and add to the cost of recycling.

Make your New Year’s Resolution to get plastic out of your business and switch to plant based compostables. Don’t put off the decision any longer. Make the change over the course of the year if needed. Take small steps that become bigger strides. You know it’s the right thing to do, now more than ever.