The United States is looking to raise the recycling rate to 50% by 2030. NCCO is here to help.
We are all familiar with the RRR – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – mantra designed to better manage the waste producers and consumers create throughout the day. Reducing focuses on managing waste by not producing it in the first place. Reusing, as the name implies, looks to use an item or product as many times as possible before discarding.
Recycling takes used materials and then processes and remanufactures them to sell anew. This practice helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators while conserving natural resources, preventing pollution and greenhouse gas production.
Only 5% of plastic waste in the United States gets recycled and almost 85% goes straight to landfill or ends up in our oceans and greenspace. Conscious of this, the United States is looking to raise the recycling rate to 50% by 2030 for plastic packaging, which is the largest source of plastic waste.
NCCO is committed to helping make that goal a reality. But it isn’t always grand gestures that make the most difference. It is often the little things, the things people don’t often think about or realize when considering how to make recycling more effective or help cut back on plastic waste, that matter most.
One thing? Recyclable labels.
Plastics Used for Packaging
Let’s start by talking about the different types of plastics. There are several types, many of which are not recyclable. Some examples of non-recyclable plastics include bioplastics, composite plastic, plastic-coated wrapping paper and polycarbonate – think of items like cling film and blister packaging as plastics that cannot be recycled.
Thermoplastics, on the other hand, are polymers that can be melted and recast. The material gets its name from the fact that it melts when heated and hardens when cooled. These effects are completely reversible, and the material can then be reheated, reshaped, and frozen continually. This is what makes thermoplastics mechanically recyclable.
In order to better understand how different types of plastic packaging can be recycled, a system of symbols is used. These symbols are often demarcated by numbers so the consumer can quickly and easily determine whether their packaging is recyclable.
Here are the most common recyclable plastic types:
- 1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) – this includes water bottles and plastic trays
- 2 – High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – including milk cartoons and shampoo bottles
- 5 – Polypropylene (PP) – think of margarine tubs and ready-meal trays
Along with the polypropylene and polyethylene mentioned above, other thermoplastics include polyvinylchloride, polystyrene, polyethylene theraphthalate and polycarbonate.
Learn more about recycling symbols and plastic packaging by clicking here.
Boost Recycling with Clear Labels
Understanding the differences between plastics then helps us to understand how something as simple as labels can make all the difference. Part of the problem with plastic packaging ending up as waste is mixing different plastics, i.e., using a label made of plastic material that doesn’t comply with standards of recycling removes recycling potential for plastic packaging.
As our Clear Labels are made entirely of recyclable #5 polypropylene (one of the most common types of plastics used for packaging as mentioned above), all packaging that uses these labels is now fully recyclable. By introducing clear labels for to-go and takeaway items, we sidestep this issue and help ensure at least a certain amount of plastic packaging is recycled.
Grab-and-go and takeaway food has become an increasingly common way for people to get their meals (read our blog Keeping Up with To-Go Orders in Understaffed, Overworked Restaurants to learn more). Clear labels can become the new standard and make life easier for quick service restaurants, food trucks, convenience stores and corner shops, and any and all other food service establishments dedicated to reducing waste.
As we said before, plastic packaging makes up the bulk of plastic waste found in landfills and oceans. By offering clear labels for the DateCodeGenie® automated labeling system, NCCO offers one solution for cutting the amount of plastic waste that ends up polluting our environment, helping reduce waste and support our fragile ecosystem.
Learn more and request a free sample today!