Greenpeace has reviewed the production and application of biodegradable plastics,
how they are managed in different parts of the world, and how they are marketed
by big brands.Click below for PDF report on
Plastics Reduction Challenge
Note: Many of these suggestions are to reduce your waste, which will in turn reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
1. Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store (or any store!) OR use the ones you have until they give out!.
2. Plase don't buy plastic beverage bottles.
Choose glass bottles or metal cans instead.
3. Carry your own reusable steel or ceramic beverage container. If they're too pricey, use a glass mason jar! Heavy, but cheap.
4. Please don't get to-go coffee or hot drinks. Your drink lid and cup will live on for over 100 years! The lids and lining are plastic. Bring your own ceramic, reusable cup or ask for one.
5. Go to the farmer's market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic).
6. Try not to buy convenience foods packaged in plastic.
7. Make your own bread or buy bread from bakeries that package in paper.
8. Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic.
9. Buy laundry detergent in boxes or use original containers to REFILL from bulk stores.
10. Buy eggs in reusable / paper containers.
11. Buy your cheese from the deli and place it in your own container glass or a plastic one that you already have or get it wrapped in paper.
12. Buy your meat from the deli and have it wrapped in paper.
13. Package your leftovers in glass or plastic containers that you already have, or aluminum foil.
14. Bring your own containers to restaurants to package leftovers.
15. Use bar soap to wash your dishes or refill your existing containers with bulk products like Dr. Bronner's, for example.
16. Avoid using deodorant or antiperspirant products, whose ingredients and used plastic bottles can cause health and environmental risks. Try using alternatives that use plant oils and extracts like coconut oil.
17. Please don't use air fresheners. Light a candle or incense instead.
18. Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
19. Buy bulk cereal, bring your own paper bags.
20. Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.
21. Buy bulk coffee packaged in paper or in cans, or bring your own bags.
22. Buy peanut butter that is packaged in glass containers.
23. Try not to use hand, hair and body soaps in plastic containers The new bars wrapped in paper work well.
24. Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
25. Line small trash bins in your house with paper bags.
26. When ordering drinks, or doing take-out, please say "no straw please!".
27. Buy syrups that come in glass bottles.
28. Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic…and at least 80% post-consumer paper pulp. Why cut down forests for TP?
29. Try not to use ziploc bags. If you need to keep things like half an onion (happens to us all the time!) use aluminum or wax paper.
30. Use cloth rags for clean up around the house instead of paper towels – reduces your trash and need for trash bags.
31. Use matches instead of plastic encased lighters. They usually give them to you for free at the liquor store.
32. Use cloth napkins. They feel nice and reduce your waste and use of plastic trash bags.
33. If you want a fun drink, buy chocolate milk in a carton or apple juice in glass bottle. You can also ferment your own drinks in glass mason jars.
34. Bring your own bag to all stores you shop in and say "no bag needed, thanks!"
35. Put empty cardboard boxes in your car to transport heavy items to and from your car without a bag.
36. Say "paper not plastic" at the grocery store.
37. Please don't use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass.
38. Use baby bottles made of glass.
39. Use stainless steel sippy cups for kids.
40. Use cloth based toys for your pets, like catnip mice and soft squishy balls.
41. Buy cloth diapers. There are several brands available, and they are healthier for your baby. America fills a Super Bowl size hole every day with disposal diapers that will leach toxins into the environment for centuries to come.
42. Buy CDs packaged in cardboard sleeves or buy your music online.
43. Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to ship instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic.
44. Use real silverware for parties instead of plastic.
45. Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.
46. Make a compost heap to reduce your food waste and put it back into the earth.
47. Use a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school.
48. Make your own yogurt in glass mason jars. It's easy!
AS You Sow developed metrics for determining how companies are meeting goals on plastic packaging. Fo example, has the company completed an assessment evaluating opportunities for transition to reusable or refillable packaging in the US.
Click below for PDF on full list of company packaging metrics.
In California, less than 15 percent of single-use plastic is recycled. Despite robust curbside recycling programs and decades of public education efforts, most single-use items are used once and then landfilled, incinerated, or dumped into the environment. Our dismal recycling rate is due to many factors, among them a severe drop in the market for recycled material and the low cost of virgin petroleum.
Consumers dutifully fill their blue bins with items they believe are recyclable, which contaminate the recycling stream and make it more costly to sort and clean the truly recyclable material. Manufacturers have used this confusion to their advantage by “greenwashing” unrecyclable products, often imprinting them with the “chasing-arrows” recycling symbol. Consumers need to know what is truly recyclable. California SB 343 seeks to remedy this situation.
California SB 343 prohibits offering for sale, selling, distributing, or importing a product or packaging for which a deceptive or misleading claim about the recyclability of the product or packaging is made. Displaying the chasing arrows symbol or otherwise indicating the product or packaging is recyclable is deemed a deceptive or misleading claim, unless the product or packaging is “recyclable” and is of a material type and form that routinely becomes feedstock used in the production of new products or packaging.
Plastic recycling labels
In the U.S., How2Recycle labels that describe whether and how various items, including plastics, may be recycled are gaining in use. These labels can tell you what you should do to prepare the item for recycling (if applicable); whether it is widely recycled, recycled in only limited places, not recycled, or recycled by dropping off at a specific location, such as a grocery store; the type of recyclable material; and the component or components that are recycled.
In the meantime, the RIC system is still in place and helpful for both consumers and those who want to run a plastics recycling operation, which generally deals with packaging used for consumer products.
Each number represents a type of plastic, and different types of plastics are generally used in the same types of packaging.
1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET) PETE 1 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is polyethylene terephthalate, which is shortened to PET or PETE. This symbol is normally found on bottles for soft drinks and water; salad dressing, peanut butter, and vegetable oil containers; and mouthwash bottles.
PET bottles can be recycled into new containers, pallet straps, paneling, carpet and clothing fibers, and fiberfill for soft furnishings and sleeping bags.
Although there is demand for recycled PET, the recycling rate in the U.S. was 29.2% in 2017, the latest year for which data was available, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).
2 - High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE 2 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is high-density polyethylene, or HDPE. You can find HDPE in milk jugs, shampoo bottles, butter and yogurt tubs, motor oil bottles, shopping and trash bags, bags inside cereal boxes, and household cleaner and detergent bottles.
This plastic can be recycled into lumber, drainage pipes, pens, fencing, picnic tables, doghouses, benches, and floor tiles, in addition to bottles and other containers.
The recycling rate for HDPE bottles was 31.1% in 2017.
3 - Vinyl (V or PVC) PVC 3 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is vinyl or polyvinyl chloride. You can find vinyl in piping, siding, medical equipment, wire jacketing, certain clear food packaging, and cooking oil, window cleaner, detergent, and shampoo bottles.
Vinyl is rarely recycled. A tiny percentage of PVC is recycled into mats, speed bumps, cables, flooring, roadway gutters, mud flaps, paneling, and decks.
4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) 4 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is low-density polyethylene, or LDPE. This plastic is commonly found in shopping bags, squeezable bottles, carpet, furniture, clothing, tote bags, dry cleaning bags, and frozen food or bread bags.
LDPE is rarely recycled. When it is, it can be made into floor tile, lumber, paneling, shipping envelopes, compost bins, trash cans, and bubble wrap.
5 - Polypropylene (PP) 5 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is polypropylene or PP. It is commonly found in medicine bottles, straws, bottle caps, ketchup bottles and syrup bottles, and some yogurt containers. This plastic is often chosen for bottles and containers that must accept hot liquids as it has a high melting point.
PP is rarely recycled. When it is, it can be made into trays, pallets, bins, rakes, bicycle racks, landscape borders, ice scrapers, auto battery cases, brushes, brooms, battery cables, and signal lights.
6 - Polystyrene (PS) Styrofoam 6 inside the triangle indicates the plastic is polystyrene (PS), which is also erroneously referred to as Styrofoam, the name of a Dow-trademarked brand of polystyrene insulation. You can find PS in disposable cups and plates, carry-out containers, egg cartons, and meat trays.
It is generally considered to be difficult to recycle and has been banned in some municipalities in the U.S. It is possible to recycle PS into packaging and containers, as well as foam packing, light switch plates, and insulation.
7 - Miscellaneous Plastics
Any plastic that does not fall under one of those six types has a 7 inside the triangle. These plastics include nylon and polycarbonate and are found in certain food containers, signs and displays, computers and electronic devices, DVDs, sunglasses, and bulletproof materials.
These plastics are almost never recycled, but they could be transformed into plastic lumber and certain custom-made products.