Recycle Smart for the Planet and the Economy

Howdy Recycling Partners!

As awareness grows about all the items that don’t belong in our recycling programs (aka “contaminants”) – it’s easy for folks to get frustrated and wonder – why even bother recycling?

This month, Recycle Smart MA is keeping the focus on the many items we can recycle and why recycling is so important for the planet and the economy. As you all know – by recycling, we decrease pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and conserve energy and natural resources.

Help us continue to spread the word. Invite your friends, family members, and co-workers to follow the Recycle Smart MA social media channels and visit RecycleSmartMA.org. We have over 8,350 Massachusetts residents following our FacebookTwitter & Instagram accounts – can you help us get to 10,000? Together we can help everyone in the Commonwealth know that Recycling Smart can benefit the Massachusetts economy and the environment.

Making Recycling Smart Even Easier

Did you know that you can add the Recyclopedia search widget to any website? You can access the embedding code here. This easy and convenient tool can help people answer all their urgent recycling questions while promoting a consistent message of what is (and isn’t) recyclable across the state. Already using the Recollect app? Contact your Recollect customer support representative and they will help you sync your list of acceptable materials to the Massachusetts statewide list. 

Partner Spotlight: The Town of Ergremont

Yes! The recent changes to the worldwide markets have felt like a pie in the face to the way we’ve always recycled. Yet we are encouraged by the way the Town of Egremont has used humor to spread the Recycle Smart message by mailing this postcard to every household. Flip over the Three Stooges and residents find information about the top items to keep out of recycling and a link to recyclesmartma.org on the back of the postcard. Did you know they have also embedded the Recyclopedia widget into their town’s website? (Hint, Hint).

Market Update: Polypropylene Plastics (#5) (aka Tubs and Lids)

Good news on the recycling market front! The polypropylene plastics (PP) market is strong here in the U.S., thanks to plastic recyclers like KW Plastics in Troy, Alabama. Most Massachusetts MRFs are sorting, baling and selling PP containers domestically (as opposed to exporting it.)  KW Plastics converts it into a valuable manufacturing feedstock for new products.  In 2018 they purchased 3.2 million pounds of polypropylene containers from Massachusetts MRFs.

What is polypropylene? It’s a versatile plastic that is used to make a variety of containers in many shapes and sizes.  These include tubs and lids (think yogurt, margarine, sour cream, etc.), bottle caps and closures, take-out containers and plastic storage totes.  Unlike some plastic resins, polypropylene can be injection-molded and blow-molded and still recycled afterwards since heating it doesn’t irreversibly change its chemical properties.  The tubs and lids that you put in your recycling bins are made into plastic paint cans, razor handles, toothbrush handles, cosmetic tubs, and toys and more.

According to a recent report released by the Association of Plastic Recyclers – making products from recycled (instead of virgin) PP reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 71%!  The take-away? Encourage your community to recycle their plastic bottles, jars, jugs & tubs – with the caps and lids attached – and forget about the numbers on the bottom.   Not everything with a number is recyclable. By focusing on certain plastic resin numbers we end up with a lot of non-recyclable materials and may not capture items that are recyclable like tubs and lids!

Cheers, the Recycle Smart Team at MassDEP