In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to avoid using some form of plastic. Whether it’s the phone you reach for in the morning, shower products, the clothes you wear, the materials you pack your lunch in, the car you drive, or your morning cup of to-go coffee, the use of plastic has become ingrained in nearly every aspect of our lives.
And while there are many companies setting goals to use only sustainable packaging in the next five to 10 years, states have implemented plastic bag bans, and individuals are making smart choices every day regarding the plastic they use, there is still a growing problem with the amount of waste that is piling up in landfills. And to make matters worse, China, who receives around 70% of the world’s plastic waste, decided in 2017 to cut back on the number of plastic imports. In 2018, they banned nearly all imports, requiring countries to decide what to do with their plastic trash. In the U.S., much of the plastic is going to landfills or simply being burned, which produces pollution.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer regarding how to best recycle the plastic used every day across the globe. Some recycling is being shipped to Southeast Asian countries, but changes may need to occur on a smaller, personal scale in order to reduce the overall amount of plastic that needs to be recycled in the first place.
Ways Individuals Can Use Less Plastic
According to Milo Cress, founder of the Be Straw Free campaign, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. Because single-use plastic straws are not allowed in recycling bins, these millions of straws are headed straight to landfills. Reusable straws are growing in popularity and making it easier and more sustainable for restaurant-goers to sip at their drinks. There are various reusable straw options out there, including one from Final Straw, who makes a compactable straw and carrying case that can be attached to your keychain. Or you can shop at many local retail stores for stainless steel or silicone straws. Either way, forgoing the single-use straw, even though it may seem like it would have only a minor impact, can save a significant amount of plastic waste.
Similar to single-use straws, plastic cutlery is also non-recyclable, yet millions of Americans use plastic forks, knives, and spoons every day for on-the-go meals and simply toss them in the trash after. The solution is reusable flatware that can easily be taken with you. To-Go Ware offers bamboo sets that include a carrying case made from recycled water bottles. The set is small enough to put in your purse or glove compartment, making it easier to always have it with you.
Reusable Storage Bags
It’s incredibly convenient to simply grab a box of Ziploc single-use plastic bags for sandwiches, snacks, or miscellaneous needs, but they are rarely recycled or used to their full potential. Instead, look for storage bags that are made of silicone. Stasher offers a variety of sizes and types of storage containers that are made of pure platinum silicone, made primarily from sand. These products tend to have a higher upfront cost than the box of Ziploc bags you find at the grocery store, but in the long run, you could end up saving money, and more importantly, prevent bags from going to the landfill.
Reusable Shopping Bags
The plastic grocery bag has become an enemy for anyone who seeks to protect our planet and reduce the amount of plastic being used, and for good reason. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. According to Just Do One, each reusable shopping bag has the potential to eliminate the use of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. There is a small upfront cost, but keeping reusable shopping bags available can have a significant impact.
Reusable Cups and Bottles
Plastic water and soda bottles and cups at fast-food restaurants are convenient, but again, they aren’t recycled very often and nearly never reused. Many households already have reusable thermoses for coffee or water, and there are endless opportunities to purchase your favorite reusable bottle, but a challenge for many is to actually take it with them. When you’re in the drive-through, make an effort to say you have your own drink container and they’ll gladly fill it for you if it’s clean. Or when you’re headed out to work, remember to grab a bottle and fill it with water before you even leave.
Since 1939, Cumberland has seen a need for plastic size reduction equipment that can handle a variety of different types of plastic. In an effort to help protect our planet from harmful plastic waste, we have developed plastic granulators and shredders that are reliable, durable, and utilize innovative technology. Cumberland offers four types of plastic granulators, ensuring our customers get the equipment they need for their injection molding, blow molding, or extrusion needs.
- Beside-the-Press: High-performance machines that integrate into any molding or extrusion operation.
- Central Series: Capable of processing large volumes and can be configured to fit your specific processing needs.
- Thermoforming: Features an infeed system to ensure smooth processing. Granulators and feedrolls are designed to process a variety of materials.
- Heavy Duty: These plastic granulators can process low-density fiber and heavy purgings. They are designed with large throughput processes in mind.
The team at Cumberland is passionate about recycling plastic as efficiently and thoroughly as possible. By providing recycling facilities with durable and safe equipment, we can help protect the environment from plastic waste.