Sunday, March 01, 2009

bottling out of recycling

Come dive into the vast ocean of uncritical wonder that the Daily Telegraph's Julia Hailes pours upon a 'dreamland' plastic bottle recycling facility.

the recycled plastic produced will use half as much energy to make than virgin material

I saw a London council poster saying the energy saved by recycling a single drinks bottle is equivalent to leaving a low-energy bulb on for over 24 hours. I find the amount surprisingly large, but plausible. So, surely we should be recycling them as much as possible, right?

Apparently not.

it doesn't make sense for bottles to be made from 100 per cent recycled materials - 50 per cent is probably the ideal amount.

More than that makes the bottle end up with a slight yellow tinge. This means that either it has to be put into a plastic sleeve, so you can't see the colour or a small amount of blue dye is added.

So, we're to keep on producing 50% virgin plastic bottles - meaning half the bottles we use won't get recycled and so will go to landfill - because we can't tolerate a slight yellow tinge?

Another issue is that completely recycled bottles are actually a bit of a problem in the recycling system. Given that there aren't that many of them, I was a bit sceptical about this until Chris explained why.

All the bottles are chopped into small flakes. If those flakes are have some virgin and some recycled plastic that's fine. But if they're all recycled it affects the quality of the end bottle, in the way I've described.

Hang on. The only problem with recycling full of recycled bottles is that dreaded intolerable slight yellow tinge? That, then, is not 'another issue'. It's the same one. And it's just as much bollocks second time around.

That's not an easy message to get out to consumers - bottles made from 50 per cent recycled plastic make more environmental sense than those made from 100 per cent.

From what she's said, they do not make more environmental sense, merely more cosmetic sense.

Look at those dastardly 100% recycled bottles you get at the Co-op.

Label of bottle of Co-op tonic water with '100% recycled PET'

They get around the tinge issue by having them be tinged a bluish colour.

The battle to increase recycling and decrease overconsumption is largely a struggle between cosmetic values and resource-valuing ones. There is no starker illustration than the desire to squander untold amounts of oil and, as we've just been told, double the energy on fresh plastic so we don't have a slight yellow tinge in our bottles.

1 comment:

Tarun Kumar said...

Nice Article. Keep it up. But I think this is copy of your topic recycling process