The Recycling is Mingling

Posted on December 13, 2022 by


Shiny, a plastic cup, is a number one. He went to a factory, and then he was melted down and squeezed into a microwave dinner tray. Shiny is now a number four. He will be put into recycling again, but he may never be anything but a microwave dinner tray. 

The recycling of plastic is much more complex than it seems. Fleetwood has a recycling system to support as much recycling as possible, but the intricacies in the ability to recycle put a damper on the effects of good recycling locally.

At Fleetwood Area High School, our recycling co-mingles, “which means you can throw everything together, and it gets separated at the recycling center,” Fleetwood’s facilities director Kerry Strickler said.

“It’s actually cheaper to make new plastic than it is to recycle old plastic,” high school Chemistry teacher Matthew Biniek said.

Plastic can be unreliably recyclable because local facilities might accept varying degrees of plastics, according to  the site “Which Plastics are Recyclable by Number?”

Plastic loses value drastically after it has been recycled once.

“The water bottle’s lifespan is rather short,” Fleetwood senior and plastic enthusiast Andrew Haas said.

This aspect of plastic recycling may be why the school’s main recycling isn’t even plastic but cardboard.

Even cardboard faces challenges because recyclable items are easily contaminated. 

“A good example of contamination is a pizza box. The grease on the box makes it unrecyclable,” Strickler said.

Recycling is a complex, yet important, task–one with more caveats than the average trash-creator typically realizes.

Posted in: Lauren Kile