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PLASTICS … A Wasted Resource

Do you know what type of plastics and what quantity you put in the bin each year?

Look at the images below. The items shown are just a small sample of plastics that have been used for packaging of food, postal articles, and other items. All of these are regularly brought into the household.


Every one of these packages, and many others, are excluded from being placed in the recycling bin. These are generally classified as "not recyclable". But that is not the case, as we will see later in Recovery and Re-Use Of Plastics.

If all these plastics are placed in the garbage bin, guess where they go? Ultimately to LANDFILL! They are rejected at the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility).

They are used once and then discarded. It's a wasted resource.

ALL PLASTICS ARE RECOVERABLE and RECYCLABLE. After all, they are made from hydrocarbon (fossil) energy.

In my home state of South Australia there is a very informative website Zero Waste SA that is all about …

                      AVOID     REDUCE     REUSE     RECYCLE

But it should be more than that, and here's what it should be. 

What is the Problem With Plastics Recovery?

Examine your state's Waste Information website or page. If it is similar to Zero Waste SA, then you would find that there would be information on plastics recovery. But there would also be information on which plastics are rejected, and that's because they adversely affect the operation of the plastics sorting machinery in the MRF.

Should this be the only reason for sending these rejected plastics to landfill?

As described at Plastics In Everyday Lives, Australians consume about 1.5 million tonnes of plastics every year but only 20% is recovered. Of the remaining 1.2 million tonnes how much ends up as waste in the environment each year? It could be many hundreds of thousands of tonnes.

There's no logical reason for this. It's an enormouse waste problem that will have to be addressed by future generations. And that is NOT RIGHT!

Solving this problem today is always deferred because of cost. But we all know that transferring the cost to the next generation is NOT RIGHT nor is it just.

The cost must be borne by every consumer and producer of plastics today.

And THIS is a very good reason for having a Carbon Pricing Mechanism. 

Understanding Plastics

Shown below are a few more plastic containers that should be placed into the recycling bin, but are they really? 

How often do these containers end up in the general waste bin? Many people are simply not aware that these materials can be placed into their recycling bins.

Can you recognise the type of plastics that these items have been made from?


Some magazine wrappings these days are biodegradable. A green stamp will testify to this. So, it could be assumed that these type of wrappings will not harm the environment.

But what about all those other plastic packages and wrappings? How do you know what type of plastic you're dealing with?

Look carefully on the packaging, wrapping, or container. If you see one of the following stamps, you can identify what type of plastic it is.


These numbers are all part of the global Plastics Identification Code.

The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) was formed in the US in 1937. The SPI developed the Plastics Identification Code to provide a consistent system to identify various types of plastics and types of resins used in plastics, and to assist the public in the recycling of post-consumer plastics. 

But what do these numbers mean?

They represent different types of plastics and their particular uses, and to find out more, go to ... WHAT ARE THE COMMON PLASTICS?

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