Plastic is everywhere. We use it in all aspects of our lives, including for many of the cleaning products – even the eco friendly and green ones – that we use. But is it a green and sustainable practice? Where does it all go?
When we do not recycle, it ends up in the ocean. There is an amorphous, floating mass of waste plastic trapped in a whirlpool-like current in the north Pacific, between Hawaii and Japan. It is estimated that this garbage patch may contain as much as 100 million tons of plastic debris. This area has doubled in the last decade and is now roughly twice the size of Texas!
As many as five of these floating garbage patches are scattered across the oceans on our planet. Plastic is the most common refuse in the patches because it is lightweight, durable, and an omnipresent disposable product that can float for hundreds of miles until it is caught in the ocean currents. The vast majority of the plastic come from the land after washing into storm drains and out to sea. A new study announced at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggests that plastics in seawater break down faster than expected into tiny pieces of plastic about the size of a grain of rice.
Americans toss out 14.4 million tons of plastic every year, according to the Plastics Museum in Leominster, Massachusetts. The good news is more plastic is recycled and reused every year. Unfortunately some plastic has dyes, fillers and other additives that are barriers to the recycling process. Additionally in some places it is only economically viable to recycle a few select types of plastic. These usually include polyethylene terephthalate (PETE, designated with a 1), high-density polyethylene (HDPE 2), and sometimes polyvinyl chloride (PVC 3).
Plastics that are recycled are usually remanufactured into a new product that has less demanding specifications, for example a milk jug or soda bottle may be downcycled into building material. For instance 68,000 gallon milk jugs mixed with fiberglass supplied the materials for first bridge strong enough for cars in New Baltimore, New York!
Next time you are ready to pitch a plastic container; ask yourself, Where is this likely to end up? The green cleaning products and janitorial supplies provided by Green Cleaning Products are designed to reduce the amount of waste generated by packaging as they are either in easily recyclable containers or, even better, reusable containers. The reusable containers are designed to be refilled with a small concentrate packet and water.