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.
BEWARE – just because the packaging says it is biodegradable, it may not really be degradable or compostable. Lots of greenwashing going on by companies who want their potential customers to think they are doing their best. Not always.
New definitions are being created by CA to narrowly define these two words as part of the new Truth in Labeling law. Often a package will proudly say it is compostable – but the small print says “only in a special factory at high heat”. Not in your pile. Or in the landfill. No plastic will degrade in the landfill. It just gives off greenhouse gases. Soon CA will have a certification process for all plastic packaging. Producers will need to verify the end of life that is NOT the landfill.
Click below for PDF report on
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.
Plastic Free Life tips
Beyond the usual tips, like:
remember to take your own bag INTO the store,
your own container for take-out, your own bottle to REFILL, REFUSE taking a plastic bag,
and REUSE what you have
-Give up bottled water, juices, and other beverages in plastic
-Buy a simple SodaStream carbonator that puts bubbles in your water
-Let go of frozen convenience foods
-Farmers Markets are mostly plastic free – return containers for REUSE
-BYO container to the deli
-When doing take-out
–SAY NO TO ALL THE PLASTIC POUCHES of stuff you do not need
-Say NO to plastic containers, utensils and straws in take-out
-Fresh bakery bread comes in paper bags
-Look for new dairy items in glass bottles - make your own yogurt
-Love the BULK BINS – bring your own cloth sack or container
-Avoid cleaning supplies in plastic jugs – use water with vinegar or Vodka &baking soda
-Try Blueland simple tablet that contains the cleaning ingredients to drop in your water
-Buy TruEarth dehydrated laundry leaves – they work! No jug!
-Look for alternatives in paper boxes/bags even though there is plastic inside, it is less
-Beware -Personal care products often contain polyethylene or plastic beads
-Look for BAR soap, shampoo, conditioner, shave soap, and DishBlock for kitchen
-Go for the bamboo toothbrush and silk floss – and powdered toothpaste
-Look for TP NOT wrapped in plastic - Who Gives a Crap uses paper
-Glass or stainless are best for reusable containers
-Make your own snacks, energy bars and condiments. Book Healthy Snacks to Go
-Compost food waste to avoid plastic bags
-Buy paper trash bags to avoid even more plastic
-Look for children’s toys in wood, etc. without plastic!
-Homemade pet food is healthier
-Avoid buying clothing with fabric made of
plastic – they slough off microplastics
-Rubber flip flops – not plastic
-Give non-plastic gifts to make a statement and wrap without plastic ribbon
-Choose REFURBISHED equipment and electronics when possible
-Avoid #3PVC, #6 PS, and #7 Polycarbonate – Harmful to environment.
-Beware – very little plastic or bio-plastic is truly compostable - YET! Working on it.
-Fine print says “compostable in commercial facilities”
ENJOY THIS NEW EXPERIMENT IN PLASTIC-FREE LIVING – OUR EARTH THANKS YOU!
Nevada County Climate Action Now
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.