recycling? or greenwashing?

I posted this over on Supercute a while back, but because it came up in conversation during the NoImpact Project’s trash day, I thought it was worth a re-post over here:



So when you see this symbol on the bottom of your plastics, it appears that it is telling you that these plastics are recyclable, if you could just find a facility that accepts that number, right? (pic courtesy TreeHugger)

Wrong. (I didn’t know this either)

That is merely the symbol that the plastics industry trade association chose to surround their polymer-identifying numbers. It could have been a circle, a square, anything. That they chose the three arrows most commonly associated with recyclability seems like they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes and make us look at the use of plastics more favorably. The reality is that for the most part, only numbers 1 and 2 are commonly recyclable, and #5 isn’t recyclable at all. (#6 makes fun home-made shrinky dinks, but isn’t commonly recycled otherwise either)

SO the reality of plastic recycling land is that a lot of time is spent sorting out what people with good intentions dumped into their recycling bins and forwarding those bags and containers on to landfills. Bummer.

It seems like maybe if they changed that symbol, more people might be inclined to go the reduce and re-use route, because it would be more obvious the recycle option wasn’t available?

Just a thought…

PS, speaking of GreenWashing, check out what TerraChoice has to say about the labelling of “eco-friendly” products. It’s very eye-opening!


2 thoughts on “recycling? or greenwashing?

  1. My local shire website tells me I can recycle everything with those symbols on it. For along time I thought only 1 and 2 were recyclable, but apparently they take it all. Maybe Australia has a more developed system, then?

  2. I’ve recently found out our new program takes all of the numbers as well. I don’t think they are yet doing anything with the upper numbers, just storing them. I’m trying to get more info on it for a future update.

    I am wondering if they are going to use the upper numbers in that process where they basically burn them down to get fuel in a giant microwave. That’s another thing I’m trying to learn more about.

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