Recycling in Sioux Falls

Why Can’t you Recycle Plastic Cups or To-Go Containers?

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One of the biggest problem items we see at Millennium are plastic cups and clamshell to-go containers. People think these are recyclable, but they are not.

These “low-melt #1’s” or polystyrene cups and clamshells are commonly used for food items like solo cups, to-go, takeout, berries, salad and tomatoes. Most recycling facilities don’t accept cups or clamshell containers because they flatten easily when crushed and machines can’t correctly sort them out (they often end up with paper). They also melt at a different temperature than other plastics which creates an ash and can ruin an entire batch of good plastic. These are also often coated with food, adhesive stickers or labels which can lead to contamination issues. And finally, there’s just no good reuse market for them right now, especially with China’s crackdown.

The tiny numbers on the bottom of plastic containers do NOT mean they are recyclable. These numbers (resin identification codes) are used to tell manufacturers what types of plastics were used to produce an item, but it could be a mix of many different types of additives and chemicals, which makes recycling nearly impossible. This is why we say bottles, tubs and jugs only- as these containers are usually recyclable (no matter what the number says).

The lack of recycling options for these plastics means that billions of single use plastic and foam items are sent to the landfill each year. This means that a plate, cup or container you used for 5 minutes will be hanging around in the ground or waterways essentially forever. A solution would be for manufactures to communicate with recyclers to make sure their products are actually recyclable and make economic sense for companies to collect and process. However, it’s a chicken and egg dilemma. Does it start with the producers changing their products? Or consumers demanding the change?

Please help recycling be successful in our community and KEEP TOGO CONTAINERS OUT. We appreciate your help!

30 Aug, 17

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