How To Get The Most Out Of Recycling In 2019 And Beyond

April 30, 2019 4 min read

How To Get The Most Out Of Recycling In 2019 And Beyond

For a feel-good alternative to tossing things in the trash, there’s always recycling. But the US recycling system was recently left in the lurch when China changed its policy on foreign waste imports. Here’s what you need to know to become savvy about recycling in the upcoming years.

 

What does China have to do with US recycling?

The US and the rest of the world used to rely heavily on China to import our recyclable plastic. In 2012, as much as 56% of the global plastic waste went to China. Now that China has chosen to restrict its imports of recyclable plastic, the US is scrambling to find a workaround.

In the past, it seemed logical to send back scrap materials on the empty cargo ships that had offloaded their goods from China in the US. The material would then return to the manufacturing hub of the world, where it could presumably be transformed into a raw material to produce more consumer goods.

An important shift in global trade took place in 2017 when China decided to ban 24 types of scrap, and hike up the standards on plastic contamination. These standards became so hard to meet that they essentially limited the imports of plastic.

The change has sent a shockwave through the recycling and waste disposal industries. The US has responded by trying to find alternate sites to divert its recyclables to other countries, but these other countries have started to limit imports, as well. Some cities have had to cancel their recycling programs, which has led to a spike in landfill use.

Another strategy is to better educate consumers to curb the source of waste. Plastic bans have already started to sweep around the world and other more meaningful changes could come to the recycling industry.   


Why did China change its policy on plastic imports?


China changed its own domestic policies around recycling, to improve environmental and health hazards related to the industry. It also started to use its recycling facilities for domestic use. From a broader perspective, China has incentives to change its reputation as the number one global polluter.


What percentage of plastic waste gets recycled?


In 2018, scientists set out to measure how much plastic the world has produced since the material was invented around 1950. They found that approximately 8.3 billion metric tons had been produced. Of that, 12% has been incinerated and only 9% has been recycled. Most of the world’s plastic goes to the waste stream.

To address this issue, we need to confront the dilemmas associated with recycling head-on by understanding its limitations.


What can I do to make sure my boxes, bottles, and cans get recycled?


Many recycling centers see “aspirational recycling” as a huge hindrance to an effective recycling system. We throw the wrong kinds of plastic into the bin, or our containers may be contaminated with motor oil or food waste and covered with labels that can’t be recycled. To avoid contamination, here are a few helpful principles:

    • Remove labels, plastic tape or other mixed materials from the packaging before recycling it.
    • Clean off oil and food debris as much as possible before recycling containers.
    • Check your local authority, but generally, only number 1 and 2 plastics can be recycled.
    • Oily substances contaminate pizza boxes and other containers, rendering them unrecyclable.
    • Make the extra effort to deposit plastic shopping bags, batteries, textiles, and compostable food waste at designated drop-offs around town.

    Are there significant differences between recyclable materials?

    Absolutely. Materials like glass and metal can be perpetually recycled without much-degraded quality. You can smelt an aluminum can into raw metal sheets and reshape it back into a recycled can again. Paper is less straightforward, but also poses less of an environmental risk because it is biodegradable and decomposes fairly rapidly in the environment.



    Plastics are even more tricky. Firstly, most plastics take roughly 400 years to decompose. Secondly, they are rendered into non-recyclable plastic forms once they are recycled. This means they can usually only be recycled once or twice before they are no longer a recyclable material.

    That’s why single-use plastics fill up the waste stream by design. Plastics should probably be reserved only for products designed for long-term use. If you choose to refrain from just one material, avoid single-use plastics.   
     
    Another thing to consider is that many materials look easy to recycle, but they are lined with plastic. This effectively “contaminates” that material. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to plastic linings and coatings on your containers.


    Are there any benefits to purchasing recycled materials?

    Yes! By purchasing recycled materials, you help the recycling centers earn profit from their activities. It’s a good idea to choose recycled materials because that means you’ve also avoided the use of raw materials for production.  

    Get smart about recycling this year and let us know the tips and tricks that have helped you keep your waste to a minimum.



    Sources:

    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.

    join the movement!

    Size Guide

     

    UNISEX TEES

    Our unisex tees are loose-fitting, and suitable for both men and women. 

    Sizes
    Width (IN)
    Length (IN)
    Sleeve Center Back (IN)
    XS
    16
    26.5
    15
    S
    18
    28
    15.75
    M
    20
    29.25
    17
    L
    22
    30.25
    18.25
    XL
    24
    31.25
    19.5
    2XL
    26
    32.5
    20.75
    3XL
    28 33.5 22

    *We tend to tell women to order a size down from what they traditionally are in WOMEN'S sizes. Ex: If you are a women's large traditionally, we would recommend you order a size down in our Unisex Tees. It all depends on your preference of fit, though.

    ORGANIC UNISEX TEES

    Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN)
    XS 16.5 26.7
    S 18 28
    M 20 29.1
    L 21.3 30.3
    XL 22.8 31.25
    2XL 24.8 32

    *We tend to tell women to order a size down from what they traditionally are in WOMEN'S sizes. Ex: If you are a women's large traditionally, we would recommend you order a size down in our Organic Unisex Tees. It all depends on your preference of fit, though.

    UNISEX CREWNECKS

    Our unisex crewnecks are loose-fitting, and suitable for both men and women. 

    Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN) Sleeve Center Back (IN)
    XS 18 26.5 31.5
    S 20 27.5 32.5
    M 22 28.5 33.5
    L 24 29.5 34.5
    XL 26 30.5 35.5
    2XL 28 31.5 36.5
    3XL 30 32.5 37.5

    *We tend to tell women to order a size down from what they traditionally are in WOMEN'S sizes. Ex: If you are a women's large traditionally, we would recommend you order a size down in our Unisex Crewnecks. It all depends on your preference of fit, though. These crewnecks are nice and cozy, so having them a little bigger if fine for a lot of customers.

     

    UNISEX HOODIES

    Our unisex hoodies are loose-fitting, and suitable for both men and women. 

    Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN) Sleeve Center Back (IN)
    S 20 27 33.5
    M 22 28 34.5
    L 24 29 35.5
    XL 26 30 36.5
    2XL 28 31 37.5
    3XL 30 32 38.5
    4XL 32 33 39.5

    *We tend to tell women to order a size down from what they traditionally are in WOMEN'S sizes. Ex: If you are a women's large traditionally, we would recommend you order a size down in our Unisex Hoodies. It all depends on your preference of fit, though. These hoodies are nice and cozy, so having them a little bigger if fine for a lot of customers.

     

    UNISEX LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS

    Our unisex long sleeve tees are loose-fitting, and suitable for both men and women. 

    Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN) Sleeve Center Back (IN)
    S 18 28 33.5
    M 20 29 35
    L 22 30 36.5
    XL 24 31 38
    2XL 26 32 39.5
    3XL 28 33 39.5
    4XL 32 33 39.5

    *We tend to tell women to order a size down from what they traditionally are in WOMEN'S sizes. Ex: If you are a women's large traditionally, we would recommend you order a size down in our Unisex Long Sleeve Shirts. It all depends on your preference of fit, though.

     

    WOMEN'S MUSCLE TANKS

    Tend to run true to size for women, with a loose fit.

    Sizes Fits Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN)
    S 2-5 16 20 1/4
    M 5-8 16 3/4 20 5/8
    L 8-10 17 3/4 21 1/8
    XL 10-14 18 3/4 21 5/8
    2XL 14-18 19 3/4 22 1/8

    *We recommend ordering your regular, women's sizing for our Women's muscle tanks.

     

    WOMEN'S SLOUCHY TANKS

    Tend to run true to size for women, with a loose fit.

    Sizes Fits Sizes Width (IN) Length (IN)
    S 2-5 16 20 1/4
    M 5-10 16 3/4 20 5/8
    L 10-14 17 3/4 21 1/8
    XL 14-18 18 3/4 21 5/8
    2XL 18-20 19 3/4 22 1/8

    *We recommend ordering your regular, women's sizing for our Women's slouchy tanks.