Anyone who cares about the environment is likely to be interested in recycling. I count Martine and me in this category. Recent developments, however, have thrown a monkey-wrench into the recycling debate. We used to send huge bales of newsprint and plastic to China and other Southeast Asian countries to rework into other products. This they did—to some of the so-called “recyclables,” but only if they were profitable. The rest usually found their way into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , a monument to the failure of recycling.
At the same time we carefully sort our garbage between the dumpster and the blue recycling bins, it seems that everything (except, possibly, aluminum cans and certain plastics codes type 1 and 2) winds up in landfills.
According to LA Sanitation, the following plastics are recyclable:
All plastics numbers 1 through 7
Empty plastic containers, wiped out if possible, including:
- Soda bottles
- Juice bottles
- Detergent containers
- Bleach containers
- Shampoo bottles
- Lotion bottles
- Mouthwash bottles
- Dishwashing liquid bottles
- Milk jugs
- Tubs for margarine and yogurt
- Plastic planters
- Food and blister packaging
- Rigid clamshell packaging
- All clean plastic bags (grocery bags, dry cleaner bags, and film plastics)
- All clean polystyrene products (plates, cups, containers, egg cartons, block packaging, and packing materials)
- Plastic hangers
- Non-electric plastic toys
- Plastic swimming pools
- Plastic laundry baskets
- Car seats (cloth removed)
If you wonder what the plastic recycling codes mean, click here. The easiest to recycle are plastic types 1 (PETE: Polythylene Terephthalate, such as soda bottles) and 2 (HDPE: High-Density Polyethylene, used for detergents, milk, bleach, shampoos, and motor oil). As you can see, Los Angeles collects types 1 through 7, but most are handled in landfills with all the other trash.
The pity of it is that something can be done, but the economic will to do so is lacking. In the meantime, the plastic manufacturing companies continue to churn out their products and pay lobbyists to fight ordinances to regulate them.