We’ve all heard it for as long as we can remember… the three R’s; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! The first two options are great and completely within our realm of control, but the last piece of that puzzle is not so much, unfortunately. We do our part as best as we can by separating our recycling, compost, and trash - and hope that our municipality is doing their part as well. But, how do we know what we’re tossing in the recycling bin is ACTUALLY being recycled properly? And how does Escarpment Lab’s packaging stack up?
What Does It All Mean??
The numbers we see within the recycling symbol don’t exactly mean that the plastic product is recyclable (sneaky, sneaky corporations, we see you!). The numbers represent the kind of plastic that product is made of. The most commonly recycled plastics that are accepted by recycling programs are #1 (PETE) and #2 (HDPE). Here, we have our “gold standard” recyclable plastics, meanwhile, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 are made from materials that are a lot tougher to actually recycle. So, let’s break these down a little more.
#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
A clear, hard plastic often used for our water & pop bottles, or vegetable oil containers. RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) is the most widely recycled plastic which is fantastic!
#2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
A not so transparent, hard plastic that is widely used for our shampoo bottles and household cleansers. HDPE is accepted worldwide as it’s the easiest plastic polymer to recycle! It is important to note that if other plastics are processed within the batch, then the recycled end-product may be ruined.
#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
The primary base plastic in a variety of pipes, vinyl, and paneling. The average lifespan of this plastic is 30 years! The high chlorine content and high levels of hazardous additives require a separation from other plastics necessary for recycling.
#4 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
A soft, flexible plastic often used for shopping or bread bags. This type of plastic is a lot tricker to recycle as the plastic film must be separated (the film includes HDPE and LDPE). Coloured film must also be separated from clear film.
#5 Polypropylene (PP)
This plastic is commonly found in caps, medicine bottles and straws. This is one of the LEAST recyclable plastics with a rate of less than 1%. The process involves 5 steps: collection, sorting, cleaning, reprocessing via melting, and producing the new products from the recycled PP and even then, the products made from this process can be blended with virgin PP which occurs at a rate of 50%!
#6 Polystyrene (PS)
These are the plastics we find in single use coffee cups, take-out containers and what is commonly known as Styrofoam. Aside from PP plastics, PS is one of the most challenging and expensive types of material to recycle. Its extremely low density (on average being 98% air), definitely not the way to go for material use.
#7 Other Plastics
Polycarbonates (PC) are among one of the most difficult materials to recycle. One method is by chemical recycling; however, the end product tends to be less resilient. Other plastics that tend to fall in this category are multi-resin and mixed plastic items that tend to be universally difficult to recycle.
From what it seems, plastic materials labeled with a #1 or #2 can be easily properly recycled and belong in the blue bin, while the others are just perceived to be different levels of trash due to their difficulty breaking down.
So with that being said, where do Escarpment Lab’s packaging materials end up on this list for your recycling efforts?
We Got What You Need!
When it came to deciding what type of material to use for our pro packaged liquid yeast cultures, we wanted to get it right from the start. For as long as I’ve known, here at Escarpment Labs, we get our 1L, 4L, and 10L plastic jugs made with High-Density Polyethylene from a Canadian manufacturer. Check the bottom of your jug next time you receive an order from us and see for yourself!
Brewers, this means all you need to do after pitching your yeast is rinse out the jug, toss it right into that blue bin, and trust that this type of plastic will actually be recycled! Unfortunately, you’ll have to toss the lid into the trash because it does contain a polystyrene lining which - as we have learned - makes it non-recyclable.
We are always looking for better ways to keep plastic out of the landfills, are exciting about new packaging opportunities in the future. After all, the future is looking greener as the world shifts to find new and innovative ways for greener and (environmentally) cleaner packaging!
Want to learn more about our environmental and sustainability efforts at Escarpment Labs? Check out our blog post, “Moving Towards Sustainability: New Boxes & Alternative Shipping Materials”.