Are Recycled Content Products RECYCLABLE?

an infinity symbol with an earth on it to represent a circular green economy

an infinity symbol with an earth on it to represent a circular green economyThere is so much talk about companies large and small committing to using recycled materials in making their products. What you don’t hear from those same companies is if their products are recyclable. Let’s talk about that because it is so much more important.

In the age of ‘shoptivism’ consumers choose to support and buy from the companies that they believe are doing right regarding the environment and social justice, but the truth is behind the smoke and mirrors of marketing: Just because a product is made from recycled content does not mean it is automatically still recyclable. In fact, the manufactured product may actually be worse for the environment than the original recycled materials! I know, sit down because this is an eye-opener.

First, plastic does not actually decompose. All the plastic ever made is still present on the planet in one form or another, often broken down into microplastics. It’s estimated that every mature person in industrialized nations has ingested enough plastic to create a credit card. Microplastics end up in our soil, water, and food, and are so small they become airborne. Microplastic has been found in the most remote regions of the Arctic ( read more on this )! This results from plastic trash in the environment.

Recycled and reclaimed don’t = recyclable

So recycling plastic to be made into other items solves the problem, right? Not always. Some companies make sustainability statements that boast about their products containing ‘reclaimed materials’. The problem is that their products may not be recyclable. ‘Composite’ can be a bad word in the recycling industry. Once you’ve added organic wood flakes or fiberglass to plastic, it is no longer recyclable by your curbside vendor or drop-off facility. Consider that a plastic bottle that’s .019″ thick takes about 450 years to decompose (down to microplastics) in a landfill. If the composite lumber is 1.5″ thick, that’s almost 79 times thicker – 79 x 450 = 35,550 years! The composite product just made the problem worse. It cannot be recycled by traditional mechanical methods and all that plastic that would have been recyclable is now going to a landfill to turn into microplastics for the next 35,000 years. This is why ensuring your purchase is recyclable is so important when you’re shopping. If that deck or chair was made with composite plastic lumber, all those scraps and cut pieces that result aren’t going to be recycled by any MRF in your area because they don’t have the technology to separate the materials. And someday, the entire deck or chair goes to a landfill, too.

Polly Products are recycled, and recyclable!

Polly Products‘ entire line is fully recyclable. We use only recycled HDPE plastic with no fillers or other ‘reclaimed materials’. And we make every effort to ensure our products don’t end up in a landfill. That’s why we always back up our 20-year warranty. If a customer ever needs a replacement part, we include a ‘call tag’ to have the old part sent back to us using our shipping account. All scrap, cut-offs and returned parts get reground and put right back into our feedstock. The material is clean, is recyclable, and we can and we do recycle it. This is what sustainability looks like; a closed-loop cycle of recycled plastic being recycled again and again.

You’re buying recycled products because you want to do the right thing. Please make sure the product you choose truly is the right thing.