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I just want to say one word to you, just one word…

February 24, 2009

Name this movie. One of the most famous movie quotes in the past 100 years:

Mr. McQuire: Ben, I just want to say one word to you, just one word…

Ben: Yes, sir.

Mr. McQuire: Are you listening?

Ben: Yes, I am.

Mr. McQuire: Plastics.

Ben: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McQuire: There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Okay, plastics are here! Now what?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Charlie permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:26

    Just out of curiosity, how is the recycling process different for hard and soft plastics? Like… why can’t they be recycled together. After all, it’s all plastic, right?

  2. krystalpersaud permalink
    February 24, 2009 15:32

    Hey Charlie >> So, you are right, it is all plastic. But, there are 7 basic types of plastics. And manufacturers may choose to use a combination of different plastics or different resin coatings of plastics, so the number of different types of plastics possible is infinite. So each plastic can only be recycled with their specific kind of plastic. If you melt together multiple different types of plastics, they won’t blend well.. and the resulting material may not be what is desired to make a new product.

    It is kind of like mixing paint. So think about each color in ROYGBIV as a different type of plastic. You have to mix red with red to get another pure red color. If you mix together one part red in a batch of yellow, you are not going to get something that is not pure yellow– it will be slightly orange. So say you have a yellow-orange color, you can only recycle that with an identical yellow-orange color. (Back to plastics) So after a while, if you keep recycling the same items that are maybe not exactly pure after other recycling processes… they cannot be recycled again (because it is such a crazy mix of things). That is why recycling is sometimes referred to as “down-cycling”.

    So in this sense, hard and soft plastics are not so different to recycle– they are just different types of plastics. An old-school traditional recycling program usually only accepts hard plastic to recycle (costs more to recycle more). So typically people did not recycle soft plastics because facilities around them did not accept it. Also on a lot of shrink wrapped plastic packaging there is no recycling triangle that tells you which of the 7 categories it is, so people may resort to just trashing it.

    Sorry that was long, does that answer your question though? Yes, it is all plastic… but recycling plastics (since there are SO many kinds) is a very specific process.

  3. mkjoyce permalink
    February 24, 2009 15:54

    The Graduate!

  4. krystalpersaud permalink
    February 24, 2009 15:58

    meg meg >> yay! that is correct. you win a prize…

  5. lori permalink
    February 24, 2009 16:00

    the graduate!

    and why isn’t soft plastic recycling as widespread?

  6. krystalpersaud permalink
    February 24, 2009 16:06

    lo >> Yay 2 winners. I honestly am not sure why. Perhaps because when recycling programs begun, they excluded soft plastics (they used of this less soft plastic packaging back in the day). So now, to expand and change programs probably costs a lot of money. I don’t know if there is another recycling process (other than sorting, chopping into smaller pieces, melting into pellets, redistributing to factories) which is totally unique to soft plastics. I did not think there was. Maybe you can ask your new materials teacher and post back!

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