In the US, depending on the state you live in, I have found at least two methods to use Recycled plastic.
1. One is the recycling of plastic containers, they subdivide into different categories of (1–6) of plastics, and the box with have a triangular recycling symbol telling you the number. Strictly speaking, only some of those are accepted at the transfer station and might ultimately be able to be recycled using particular methods. So even if you drop the wrong containers at the plastic bin, it might be sorted out during the process and end up in landfill after all.
2. At your municipal Transfer Station, you might also find a general plastic collection bin/container. It is where everything plastic can go that is not acceptable in the recycling bin. This is where you can drop off children’s toys (99 % made of plastic these days) or dilapidated garden chairs, old PVC pipes, etc.
There is a vast international market; most of the recycled plastic is shipping to China, where it will have reprocessing into new plastic items. A massive problem with plastic recycling is that it misleads people into believing plastic is an environmentally friendly material. All plastics are petroleum products, and producing and recycling them is energy-intensive. In the end, plastics don’t break down, to compost, plus the breaking down process takes hundreds of years.
How Can One Reuse The Recycled Plastic?
That depends on the type of plastic, the quality of the plastic, and the level of contamination. However, plastics usually downcycled, which means that the quality of the recycled plastic is less than that of the original vinyl.
Here are some examples of products that are commonly from recycled plastic:
· Plastic #1 (PET): mostly bottles, (food) packaging material and polyester fibers for fabrics (e.g., clothing and carpets), but also rope, boat sails, automotive parts, construction materials.
For bottles and food containers, recycled PET is usually combined with virgin PET to keep the quality high enough.
· Plastic #2 (HDPE): plastic lumber (e.g., for fences, park benches or picknick tables), non-food bottles, trash bins, speed bumps, crates, truck cargo liners.
· Plastic #3 (PVC): challenging to recycle, but in recent years, more companies started doing it. Mainly recycled into flooring, but also pipes, window profiles, traffic cones, and hoses.
Few More Uses
· Plastic #4 (LDPE): not often recycled, but can be made into trash cans, plastic film, garbage can liners, plastic lumber.
· Plastic #5 (PP): not often recycled, but sometimes used for car parts, plastic trays, storage bins.
· Plastic #6 (PS): usually isn’t recycled because it is not cost-effective to do so. In rare cases, styrofoam is recovered or reused as insulation or packaging material.
· Plastic #7 (Other): this category contains many different types of plastic. AFAIK the only kind that is usually recycled, is polycarbonate, which turned into car parts or construction materials. Other plastic types in this category are often not recycled.