Monday, November 17, 2014

Grasping at Straws

When deciding how to dispose of things into the trash or as recycling, we usually turn things over and all around to find the triangle with a number inside of it denoting a recyclable item. But does everything that is recyclable have the number in a triangle? I used to think so. Which probably means that many more people probably think so too.

You’ll rarely, if ever, find a recycling symbol on plastic utensils or a drinking straw, but “plastic utensils are usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (plastic No. 1) or polystyrene (plastic No. 6). Drinking straws are usually made from polypropylene (plastic No. 5).”

Myths about recycling such materials usually include the following:

1. Recycling centers won’t accept that type of plastic.

Some recycling programs won’t accept #5 Plastics. Luckily in the Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan area we have Borden Waste-Away’s Single Stream Recycling program which accepts Plastics #1 - #7. Whether you have Single Stream recycling at your curbside or take your recyclables to one of their convenient Recycling Drop-off Centers, just throw plastic utensils and drinking straws in with your regular recycling.

2. It’s not hygienic to recycle things that have been in peoples’ mouths.

The process by which plastics are transformed into other usable products consist of heating the plastic to its melting point (usually ranging between 325 to over 700 degrees Fahrenheit) which would most certainly kill any residual germs on the plastic.

3. Nothing can be made from that type of plastic.

BlueStripe Cold Cups and Lids are made from 25% post-consumer recycled content, such as drinking straws and other plastics.

In previous articles entitled Fast Food Restaurant Recycling and Restaurant Recycling Revisited, we learned that fast food restaurants alone generate hundreds of thousands of pounds of waste material each year. Of these hundreds of thousands of pounds, surely a good portion of it would be from the drink lids, drinking straws, and plastic utensils that are so widely known to be a huge part of fast food restaurant takeout.

“Every year 50 million plastic straws from fast food restaurants chains contribute greatly to a landfill full of plastic. Plastic recycling is a green idea that allows to reuse straws and turn these plastic objects into fabulous recycled crafts and artworks for home decorating.”

“Creative plastic recycling ideas turn used plastic straws into amazing lighting fixtures, decorative curtains, storage containers, functional and useful items or unusual and inexpensive home decorations, offering great recycled crafts and diy projects for kids and adults.

Plastic recycling is a nice way to make decorations that are original and inexpensive, while exploring green design ideas and show your support of green living concepts. Plastic straws are an interesting material for making items for contemporary home decorating, adding handmade accents to your rooms.” Below is a list of websites dedicated to repurposing this popular item.

If you want to repurpose them, these sites should give you adequate motivation. If not, please recycle them. To learn more about recycling, please visit

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