Questions tagged [plastic]

A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids that are moldable. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, but many are partially natural.

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41
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5answers
197k views

Can I recycle plastics at home by melting and molding?

I would like to know if it is possible to recycle plastic at home by melting and molding. Is it at all possible? What technique or technology do I need? Can it be done with any plastic? Are there ...
18
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3answers
1k views

Does waste in public recycle bins (almost) always get recycled?

Dumping recyclable cups (when you forgot your own, or it's dirty) in the public recycle bins seems like an easy decision. But, I've noticed that the recycle bins at places like Starbucks are ...
15
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3answers
4k views

Should I reuse or recycle Ziploc bags?

I'm wondering whether I should wash and reuse my Ziploc bags or if it makes more ecological sense to bring them to a grocery store plastic recycling collection bin. Ideally at home we wash the bags ...
15
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1answer
164 views

Does transporting plastic offset the benefits of recycling it?

Apparently China has been processing about half the world's waste until this year, and most of that waste is transported over the ocean in large container ships. Recycling plastic uses less energy and ...
15
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1answer
388 views

What percentage of plastic drinking bottles is recycled after use, worldwide?

I often hear that, although plastic bottles can be recycled quite efficiently, only a percentage of them gets effectively recycled. I have heard about shipments to Africa to pile them up without a ...
14
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2answers
405 views

What are the downsides to so called greenware items?

Greenware is the brand name of a 100% corn based cups produced by Fabri-Kal. It is used to provide a plastic cup that can be composted. I'm wondering what externalities might exist for this product ...
14
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5answers
960 views

How to store plastic bags for easy access?

I bring some plastic bags to my flat almost everyday. I do not throw them out, instead I reuse them on a daily basis until they wear out. But I have a problem organising them and I am yet to find a ...
13
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3answers
17k views

Why can't black plastic be recycled?

My local council now takes most types of plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in the recycling bin. But they specifically exclude black plastic containers. Is there a reason for this? Why can't ...
12
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2answers
976 views

How many times do you need to use a cheap re-usable bag to offset its impact?

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argues that many re-usable grocery bags are made using more oil than old-fashioned "single-use" plastic grocery bags. This makes sense, as quite a bit more ...
12
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3answers
156 views

Reusing buckets for flower pots?

Is reusing old food buckets as flower pots actually a good sustainability practice or a bad one since I'm ruining good buckets by poking holes in the bottoms? I get the buckets for free from my ...
12
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1answer
190 views

Is plastic food packaging 100% reusable?

There is the prominent argument that we should buy food without plastic packaging because plastic is made of oil and thus bad. I'm wondering, however, what if the plastic packaging remains in the ...
12
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1answer
191 views

What chemicals are used to replace BPA in plastics?

And is there any reason to think that the replacement is any better than Bisphenol A (BPA) itself?
12
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1answer
1k views

Which compostable plastic types can be composted at home?

There often is confusion about compostable plastics (see for example this question on greenware items or this gardening question on plastic bags). 'Compostable' suggests that you can compost the ...
12
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1answer
210 views

Which plastics should I avoid and what qualities of plastics are important to consider?

I see a lot of DIY projects that use various plastics, even projects with a focus on sustainable processes and methods. Is the use of plastic contrary to the idea of sustainability entirely? Are ...
12
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2answers
93 views

Small scale deployment of the ocean cleanup project

The Ocean Cleanup Project aims to collect floating plastic from the oceans. By having static "sea water processors" filter the water. Are there any existing small scale deployments of this idea, i.e ...
12
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1answer
252 views

Removing agricultural plastic film waste after 10+ years degradation

[reposted from Earth Science since more relevant here] I am at a farm where previous tenants left a non-biodegradable plastic film roughly 10-15 years ago. It is inconsistently spread over a few ...
11
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2answers
152 views

How do plastic bags and other waste end up in the ocean?

There are many photos of the ocean, which in some parts is littered with all sorts of waste, often plastic bags, containers etc. I just wonder - how do such large amounts of plastic land in the ocean/...
10
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2answers
175 views

How do I calculate if it is more sustainable to have my groceries delivered?

I have been wondering recently whether having my groceries delivered is a net ecological benefit or not. It is highly likely that the overall environmental impact of the diesel used to delivery my ...
10
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1answer
5k views

How can I tell biodegradable plastic bags apart from non-biodegradable?

I keep a lot of my stuff organized in normal disposable plastic bags I have left after shopping at various markets. And it works fine, except after a couple years I often find a bag in shreds, simply ...
10
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2answers
11k views

Can plastic with only the Japanese recycling symbol be recycled in the US?

I bought a vacuum cleaner that came wrapped in several plastic bags. The bags only have one recycling code printed on them, the Japanese pura māku: Can these bags be recycled with ♴ or ♶ plastic film ...
10
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1answer
1k views

How bad are nylon and polyester clothing for the environment?

A few weeks ago I heard a news story about new research that found that polyester clothing is more of an environmental concern than previously thought. The reason for this is that each time you wash ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Why do we think of biodegradable plastic as recycled and sustainable?

I look at the questions here and see what is taught to us by the mainstream propaganda: non-degradable plastic is unsustainable and, thus, we must prefer the biodegradable one. But let us consider the ...
9
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3answers
3k views

Would it be possible to recycle all plastic into bricks and use them for building or insulation?

I've had this idea for a few years and wonder if it would be feasible. Rather than simply recycling bottles and bags in blue bins, if there could be a way to melt down all types of plastic and mold ...
9
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2answers
252 views

For dog owners, what do you use to pick up after your dog on walks?

Since we use reusable bags now, we don't have many disposable plastic bags to use in cleaning up after our dogs. This isn't really a problem in the yard, but what is the easiest way to pick up after ...
8
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1answer
553 views

Does polyethylene film (plastic bags) breakdown chemically?

I'm researching the degradation of polyethylene (PE) plastic films such as in plastic bags, and am trying to figure if they degrade chemically. If so: under what conditions, and into what byproducts. ...
7
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1answer
721 views

Storing whole chickens without plastic?

Inspired by this comment: Try to replace [ziplock bags] with something else, and reuse the ones you have until they fall apart. I haven't used ziplock bags in over 5 years and haven't missed them. –...
7
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1answer
81 views

Paper plates vs plastic plates in the landfill

I avoid using disposable plates as much as possible, but there are situations where that's not an option, such as at company events. And in those situations, I'm sometimes faced with deciding between ...
6
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1answer
145 views

How to recycle disintegrated plastic bags, without negatively impacting the environment?

We've just gotten some old books out of the loft, and it appears the plastic bags they were in have disintegrated/biodegraded. What is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of them?
6
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2answers
20k views

Do #4 (♶ LDPE) plastic bags need to be recycled at grocery stores like #2 (♴ HDPE) plastic bags?

Many recycling programs don't accept #2 (♴ - high-density polyethylene - HDPE) plastic bags (only #2 rigid plastic). Does the same apply to #4 (♶ - low-density polyethylene - LDPE) plastic? I've ...
6
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1answer
1k views

How many times can plastic be recycled?

This answer to another question brought up the point that "recycling" of plastic is often more accurately "downcycling." From Wikipedia: Downcycling, also referred to as cascading, describes the ...
6
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1answer
908 views

Is there a shaving razor that is an alternative to, say, Gillette Mach 3, and does not use plastic ?

I believe in adopting sustainable practices in our daily or recurring maintenance activities. Recently, I measured the amount of water I spend at the sink and shifted to mug-based shaving (rinsing the ...
6
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1answer
3k views

In general, is cardboard with a plastic coating acceptable for recycling?

Many children's toys and other items come with a box or package made of cardboard with a thin plastic coating. How does this affect the recycling process? Can paper recycling facilities generally ...
6
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1answer
205 views

Why is hybrid packaging so frequently used to package bread?

With hybrid packaging I refer to the combined packaging of plastic and paper. They are often offered by supermarkets for consumers to put inside fresh bread and buns. The reasons I can imagine for ...
6
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0answers
39 views

Freezing Ice Pops Sustainably

When storing ice pops for retail customers, I need to package them in a freezer-safe ,clear wrapping. I would like for it to be compostable, but apparently the compostable cellophane options are not ...
5
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3answers
481 views

What does it take to stop the use of plastic bags in big grocery stores?

Many people do their weekly groceries at large supermarkets and consume a lot of plastic bags. However, given the fact that I already know that I am going to buy a-week worth of food and supplies what ...
5
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3answers
276 views

Recycling plastic food tubs that have no resin identification code?

In my local council (I live in the UK), one category of confirmed recyclables is "plastic bottles, pots, tubs & trays". But surely not all plastic tubs can be recycled? Some of the plastic tubs I ...
5
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4answers
610 views

What will be the effect of PET-eating bacteria in society?

In a very recent paper scientists talk about the discovery of a bacterium ("Ideonella sakaiensis") which can "eat" PET, one of the most common types of plastic. I was wondering what effect this ...
5
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1answer
610 views

How does bioplastic recyclability compare with petrochemical-based plastic recyclability?

I am curious to know how recyclable bioplastics are. For example, how recyclable would a polylactic acid (PLA) cup be when compared to a conventional PET cup? Can the material go through a comparable ...
5
votes
1answer
880 views

What are the five most widely used consumer products made of recycled plastic?

By most widely used I mean in terms of sales annually (worldwide). With consumer products I follow the definition found on the BusinessDictionary, referring to merchandise or other item of common or ...
5
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1answer
514 views

Pure Plastic vs Biodegradable Plastic

I've been reading around (here, here, here and here) and I can't really find an answer to this question: is it better to throw, for example, dog poop, inside a pure plastic bag or use biodegradable ...
5
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2answers
579 views

Store drop-off vs curbside recycling plastic bags

The curbside recycling service in my town accepts plastic bags. I wonder whether there is any difference in the recycling process (thus there is any environmental benefit) between this and taking them ...
5
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3answers
541 views

Is fleece clothing a cheap and sustainable alternative to conventional cotton?

I was wondering whether fleece clothing is a good, cheap and above all sustainable alternative to conventional cotton, which uses a lot of pesticides and takes a lot of water to grow. The other ...
5
votes
1answer
91 views

Where can I recycle plastic caps in the US?

The city recycling bins in Denver don't allow plastic caps but some other cities do so it is possible to recycle them. Does anyone have any ideas where or how I could recycle the caps?
4
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2answers
3k views

Is it good to decompose plastic waste by burning?

Most of the people say its not good to decompose plastic materials by burning, but anyway it has to be decomposed after its use. Is it safe to burn plastics? If not how can we decompose plastic ...
4
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4answers
146 views

Alternatives to bottled water in the UK

I live in Devon, and tap water in my household does not taste consistently. When I moved in my current property, the neighbours warned me that they had been buying bottled water since 20 years, ...
4
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1answer
68 views

Plastic incineration vs discarding considerations

Firstly, let me say, I am not pro-either. I just hear about people trying to save the environment (and putting an end to bad municipal 'dump site' behaviour) by rather burning their trash. This is ...
4
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3answers
182 views

Is it worth washing a plastic bag to reuse it?

As I ask myself the question and start thinking about it, I realise it might be obvious that it is worth it. But I thought I'd ask anyway as someone might have a nice analysis to share. The other day,...
4
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1answer
112 views

Organic or packaging free food?

If I face the choice of organic, packaged food and non-organic non-packaged food - which is more sustainable? http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/ tells me the negative impact of packaging is twice as big in ...
4
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1answer
89 views

In the UK, is it ok to recycle plastic food packaging along with carrier bags?

I live in the UK and do most of my groceries shopping online. At the same time I collect my order I can also hand back to the driver all carrier bags from my previous order (which is great). Some ...
4
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2answers
363 views

What is the real impact of the new Adidas collection made with recycled plastic bottles?

Adidas has a new collection made with recycled plastic bottles recovered from the oceans. I have been trying to find the real environmental impact of this collection but it has been difficult to ...