The recycling industry is optimized to sort the most valuable after-market materials and relegate the remainder to the trash bin. While plastic collection rates in North America are hovering at just over 30%, only about 9% of all plastic consumed is actually recycled into new products. In fact, plastics represent 18% of America’s garbage and only food is wasted at a higher rate (EPA). Coupled with the reality of “downcycling”, which means that plastic delivers declining performance each time it’s processed, all plastics will eventually end up as trash.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider the building blocks of the plastics we’re using to minimize the amount of material that cannot degrade into inert elements. Solegear’s bioplastics are all able to be recycled and can all be used to make new products. However, they also break down more readily than virgin or recycled traditional plastics and do not contain chemicals of concern that can potentially leach into soil or water tables.
This doesn’t mean we should stop recycling, though. It’s always going to be better to use stuff more than once, no matter what the material. However, it’s important to recognize that recycling, at best, can only ever be a partial solution.