1. What is Single-Use Plastic?
Single-use plastics are plastics manufactured to be used only once or for a shortened period. Common examples of single-use plastics include straws, cutlery, takeaway food containers, and coffee cups. These plastics are not often recyclable and are one of the top causes of plastic pollution in our oceans.
2. Why Are Single-Use Plastics Bad?
Single-use plastics are mostly non-recyclable. This means that every single piece of single-use plastic ever produced is still in existence. These plastic articles tend to land up as litter in rivers, waterways, and eventually the ocean. Here they are broken down into microplastics which are unfilterable, easily ingested, and more often than not – attract and leach toxic substances into the environment and bodies of marine life.
3. Are Other Types of Plastics Recyclable?
Yes. While not all single-use plastics are non-recyclable, there are plastic items that are more easily recycled. Plastics that are used in manufacturing processes such as those in cars, planes, medical devices, etc. are traditionally more easily recycled. PET, Polyolefins, and Polystyrene plastics are also accepted by almost all recycling centers.
4. What Are the 3 Best Plastic Alternatives?
Depending on what you are using the plastic alternative for – some of the best materials you can use are woods, metals, and glass. For instance, instead of using a plastic coffee cup to get your favorite takeaway latte, grab a bamboo or porcelain mug instead.
5. Is Biodegradable Plastic Sustainable?
There is more than one type of bioplastic therefore it again depends on the type used. Type one is called partially bio-based plastic. It cannot degrade without commercial facilities meaning it cannot be composted in home systems and will not biodegrade in water, soil, or biomass. The second type is compostable plastic which is labeled (perhaps misleadingly) as biodegradable plastic. This type of plastic still requires commercial facilities even though many of them claim they will degrade in home composting systems. To be biodegradable these plastics would have to be able to break down in any natural environment without human interference, which most of them cannot.
Therefore, while they are certainly more environmentally friendly alternatives (as they can be broken down more easily and at a quicker rate) they are still not considered to be fully sustainable items.
6. Is Glass Better Than Plastic?
While neither has a particularly sustainable manufacturing process – their afterlives speak for themselves. Glass will not release toxic chemicals when it decomposes, whereas plastics regularly do. Glass is also infinitely recyclable and never loses its quality during the process, while plastics can only be recycled a few times before they must be downcycled. However, glass is heavier and more fragile than plastic and so depending on the item, it may not be as useful in a variety of situations. In terms of glass replacements for items such as water bottles, food containers, pantry storers, and the likes – yes glass is better than plastic.