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In the United States alone, 500 million straws are used daily, with more than 1.8 billion discarded each year. And despite the fact that plastic straws are made of a recyclable material, they often slip through the cracks of recycling machinery, and do not often become recycled. This results in millions of plastic straws ending up in landfills and in our oceans each month. So, how do you properly dispose of plastic straws? In this article, we take a look at why plastic straws can’t be simply thrown in your blue bin, and if they can in fact be recycled.
Why Are Plastic Straws So Difficult to Recycle?
While plastic straws are not impossible to recycle, it is not easy to do so. Recycling facilities will not often accept plastic straws, forcing most to throw them in their garbage bins. Unfortunately, throwing a plastic straw in your recycling bin is a sure way that it will end up in a landfill, eliminating the chances of recycling your plastic straw altogether.
GetGreenNow tells us more on why plastic straws are so difficult to recycle:
“Plastic straws are made out of type 5 plastic, also known as polypropylene. Although polypropylene can be recycled, most recycling facilities do not accept plastic straws. Straws are small and flexible, and can fall between the cracks of machinery, or get stuck in machinery. Therefore, they usually do not get recycled (Source). On that note, there are some cities and recyclers that may have the ability to recycle plastic straws. A simple Google search should help you find out whether you can directly place plastic straws in your recycling bin.”
How Can I Properly Dispose of Plastic Straws?
Luckily, a way does exist in order to at least make it more likely that your plastic straws will get recycled. In order to do this, you must make sure that your local recycling scheme accepts type 5 plastics, otherwise known as polypropylene, and place your plastic straws in a larger, type 5 plastic container.
TRVST explains more on why this method increases your chances of your plastic straws being recycled:
“It’s likely the whole container will get recycled therefore including the straws in it. It’s the small things sometimes. Of course, a lot of plastic straws are served with takeaway meals. Fast food chains in the US alone dish out 50 million meals a year. Try and be mindful of what happens when you dispose of the plastic straws accompanying your milkshakes and soda.”
Reduce and Reuse Straws
Of course, reducing and reusing your plastic straws is the best way to eventually eliminate this issue altogether. Do not purchase plastic straws, and do not accept them from your local takeout and restaurant services in order to reduce your own use of this unnecessary waste.
Earth 911 tells us why reducing and reusing plastic straws is the best way to work towards eliminating them altogether:
“Since you can’t bank on recycling them, your best bet is to reduce straw use entirely. Unless you have sensitive teeth, tell the restaurant to hold the straw when you order drinks, or leave it in the paper wrapping so it can be used by another customer. For those who have become accustomed to straws, buy a reusable one and bring it with you when you dine. Straws can be reused infinitely, and are manufactured to be dishwasher-safe.”
We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including how to correctly dispose of your plastic straws, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.
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