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How to Recycle Plastics Into Useful Products

Ms. Inglish has spent 30 years working in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, and aerospace education for Active USAF Civil Air Patrol.

T-Shirts Made From 60 Plastic Bottles Each

A Lot to Say is a leader in environmental sustainability. They use 100 percent recycled plastic bottles (rPET) to make their shirts, reducing energy consumption by 80%.

A Lot to Say is a leader in environmental sustainability. They use 100 percent recycled plastic bottles (rPET) to make their shirts, reducing energy consumption by 80%.

How to Recycle Plastic

The U.S. Federal Government has set a standard to attain in recycling plastics of various types in America. That standard is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as 25% of our plastic wastes.

Actually, this is much too low a figure, because plastics do not decay. They do not go away. In fact, they have migrated from landfills and rivers and other sites down to the oceans and created a new continent in the South Pacific.

Bricks Made From Plastic Bottles

Polli-Brick made from plastic bottles.

Polli-Brick made from plastic bottles.

From Plastic to Polyester

Plastic Bags Have Become a Monster

I have seen pictures of parts of China where people have literally thrown millions of plastic bags onto the ground. They do not evaporate. This continent is growing and is too large to be destroyed.

Hopefully, governments of the region as well as private sector businesses will use this monster as a base for organic growth. They might consider it bedrock and place soils on top of it and culture plants, even food crops.

I hope that someone figures out a way to make something like this happen safely. Human beings can turn nightmares into fulfilled dreams, so I look forward to it.

Plastic Bag - Famous Short Movie

Recycling Plastics in America

Not all plastics, but many, can be placed for recycled at community drop-off bins around your local county. In Columbus, Ohio the school system added such bins to several of our city school's parking lots.

Many plastics are stamped or embossed with a number from 1 to 7 inside a triangle on the bottom of the container. This number tells us if the container can be recycled.

You can call your local city or county offices, especially if they have a central recycling center, and ask what types of plastic you can recycle. 1-800-CLEANUP is a centralized national too free number to call to find your state recycling information.

Sugar maple sap collected in recycled plastic gallon milk jugs in Michigan, USA.

Sugar maple sap collected in recycled plastic gallon milk jugs in Michigan, USA.

The Recycling Process at Home and Work

Rinse all the plastic containers and sort them by triangle-number types 1 through 7.

You do not have to remove the labels in Ohio. Some cities tell you that you don't have to sort it the plastics, either, so call City Hall and find out for certain.

Put Type 1 and Type 2 plastic containers at your curbside if you have local pick-up service; if not, take them to a drop-off bin. Types 1 and 2 are usually plastic store and wrapping bags, soap/detergent bottles, and milk bottles, soda bottles, juice bottles, vegetable oil bottles, and water bottles. Michigan pays 10 cents per soft drink bottle, so use the recycling machines inside Wal-Mart and other stores.!

You can conveniently place your grocery plastic bags (often Type 4 and 2) at the grocery in a bin just inside the front entrance. These bags are often turned into sturdy plastic benches placed outside the stores.

Plastic foam packaging is Type 6 and may need a separate place to drop it off, considering your city or county, so call and find out for sure.

Many people throw out Type 3 plastics (food wrap), Type 5 (yogurt cups, syrup bottles, bottle tops) and Type 7 (misc.). Some of these are recyclable, so I take them to the local university recycling bins or trash containers, because they are up to date on the newest recycling techniques, and sort even the trash for recyclables. I produce very little trash to begin with, so this is not a hardship on the university, where I do my research.

For More Information

Recycling Plastic for Benches

Recycling Plastic for Benches

My Favorite Recycling

Recycled Plastic Lumber

Good uses of Plastic Lumber(RPL):

  • Agriculture/Gardening: Vine stakes, ranch fences, gates, animal stalls, fences, flower pots, compost bins.
  • Building: Retaining walls, roof shingles, walkways, railings.
  • Commercial: Flooring, pallets, truck flooring.
  • Recreation. Park benches, picnic tables, playground equipment, info booths, boardwalks, wetlands walks, decks, foot bridges, decorative "stone."
  • Transportation. Noise barriers, sign posts, guard rail sections, speed bumps.
  • Marine applications: Piers, pilings, seawalls, bulkheads, docks.

Other Uses of RPL:

  • Glass-reinforced plastic lumber.
  • Mixed rubber-plastic lumber.
  • Mixed plastics with peanut shells.
  • Mixed plastic-metal pipe.
  • Plastic-steel reinforcing rods.
  • Plastic reinforced concrete.

Significant Government Uses:

  • National Parks Service: Cavalry stables.
  • City of Sacramento: Boat bumpers.
  • U.C. Davis, Student Housing: Dorm benches.
  • Don Pedro Recreation Agency: Railing.
  • Many Others

In Ohio, grocery store plastic bags are recycled into park benches that are sturdier and can hold a larger number of individuals and even heavier-than-average persons than the previous wooden benches used. Weather does not destroy these recycled plastic benches.

These comfortable plastic benches are seen at grocery stores and retailers such as Giant Eagle, Kroger's, Wal-Mart, and other groceries around the state. They are beginning to be placed along sidewalks in business districts around Ohio as well. The benches would make a good replacement for the uncomfortable narrow, metal benches now in use at many bus stops.

The recycled plastic benches are also slowly replacing the old wooden and the crumbling concrete benches in city and state parks. I've seen people of average weight sit on one of these weather-worn wooden benches, only to have it collapse and injure them, so plastic benches are a good safety device.

Whole Foods Market plastics recycling bin at the Ann Arbor Summer Arts Festival.

Whole Foods Market plastics recycling bin at the Ann Arbor Summer Arts Festival.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

Sinobaler from Ningbo China on November 27, 2014:

It's great

Reve from Dhaka on March 18, 2012:

All communities that present in respective cities of country should come forward, and start working with these things. Recycling is must for keeping the environment fresh and clean!

Good work and keep writing good hubs!

marci on April 27, 2009:

how can i recycle a playset that is made of ldpe (type 4)?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 03, 2009:

Thanks for the visit and the information.

Sacramento Houses on April 03, 2009:

Rocklin which is just outside Sacramento was one of the first areas to work on their carbon footprint.

Haydee Anderson from Hermosa Beach on November 19, 2008:

nice hub. its nice to see more and more hubbers writing about recycling.

paul on August 27, 2008:

implementing unuseful plastic to be good creativity.Thanks

adelaide from Irvine, CA on June 06, 2008:

Great article, didn't know about the numbers. Personally, we've eliminated the use of plastic bags in our home as well as plastic bottles, and yes it can be fun and fulfilling! :)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 20, 2008:

Thanks for the post. I think the benches are useful and attractive.

Sending Virtual flowers online on March 20, 2008:

Those benches are really beautiful proofs of the necessity for recycling. A great hub you have here.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 12, 2008:

Thanks very much. I am against waste of all kinds. An I am certainly FOR flowers. :)

Manoharan from Bangalore - 560097, Karnataka, India on March 11, 2008:

GREAT WRITINGS - If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 31, 2008:

Thank you ripplemaker. I like the idea of the new biodegradable plastics. They help a lot.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on January 31, 2008:

This is all very interesting. I have yet to investigate if we do recycling of plastics in our country. I love this environmental-friendly hub. Thanks Patty! :-)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 02, 2007:

Thanks for the cooments, everyone. Thanks for catching the typo, Sunseven.

Rainmaker -- I think that auto makers or parts stores could have special recycling bins for such waste. I see people trashing hazardous waste all the time. Some people just don't care. Some don't have time. Curbside collection would be nice for this.

rainmakerrain from United States on November 02, 2007:

Patty,

Good job on recycling! What do you think about recycling hazardous domestic waste - if I trashed my Toshiba DLP replacement lamp in the regular garbage, I'd directly endanger people's health - the lamp contains mercury. It's such a hassle in my community to get rid of such waste - and I think "what would other people do?" Whould they trash their mercury lamp if they don't have time to go to a toxic waste location? And how many lamps that contain mercury are trashed every year in my appartment building trash can?

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on November 01, 2007:

Great hub, Patty!

SunSeven from Singapore / India on November 01, 2007:

PS: I think there is a typo on the first line under AMERICAN RECYCLING

SunSeven from Singapore / India on November 01, 2007:

As usual another great hub from you Patty. Thanks a lot for answering my request. There is an anti-plastic drive going on where I live.

Best Regards

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 01, 2007:

I recycle and compst so much now, that I have hardly and "trash" at all! it's even fun for me.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on November 01, 2007:

Well said!

We all need to do our part...great Hub

regards Zsuzsy

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