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There’s a great future in plastics

January 26, 2010

cutting up styrofoam to mail for recycling

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you – just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: ‘Plastics.’
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.

— The Graduate (1967)

And plastics do indeed have a great future, if by great you mean “very long lasting”.  This table lists life span for various items of litter ranging from ‘approximately 1 million years’ for glass bottles to only 450 years for the plastic collars for a six pack.  There are many other commonly discarded items that aren’t listed on the table and for some, like polystyrene, I have been unable to find a confirmed estimate for the lifespan of this product.

The onion points out in its inimitable way that even if you only throw out a plastic bottle very rarely the toll adds up.

Depending on where you live your muncipal recycling programs probably take some but not all of your plastics.  In NYC the city program is rather limited and so I’ve been trying to find ways of increasing the amount of plastic that I divert from the waste stream.  Here are a few options:

If you have other tips on where to give plastics  a new life please post them in the comments section.

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