What are the best ways to recycle plastic straws?

This article discusses the best methods one can utilise when it comes to safely disposing of plastic straws. We discuss the advantages of doing so.

What are the best ways to recycle plastic straws?

The following methods should be used in order to prevent unnecessary plastic straw waste:

  • Recycling Plastic Straws
  • Reusing Straws
  • Preventing Straw Waste

What type of plastic are straws made from?

Polypropylene or polyethylene make up the great majority of regular fast-food plastic straws in restaurants across the world today. 

Polypropylene is a resin made by connecting together propylene gas molecules. It is quite inexpensive to create and is durable and safe for contact with food and drink.

Polypropylene is also utilised in the manufacture of margarine containers and a variety of bottle tops and lids. Polypropylene, like most other polymers, is a by-product of the petroleum industry. As a result, their production depletes our natural resources.

Can you recycle plastic drinking straws?

Plastic straws are rarely reused, and they aren’t dishwasher safe, which doesn’t help. Alternatively, eco-friendly reusable straws made of metal or glass may be easily washed and reused in the dishwasher.

Kind 5 polypropylene is a type of plastic. Most household recycling programmes that take up your trash from your home do not accept type 5 plastic. Straws wind up in landfills as a result.

Check with your local government or recycling programme to see what kinds of plastic they accept. The labelling can be a bit confusing and is a problem in and of itself. 

When it comes to collecting and recycling plastics, there are many different types and rules to consider. A little local information can aid you in making the best selections possible regarding how to recycle plastic straws in your location.

Even if they can recycle in your neighbourhood, there’s another issue. They’re usually too light to recycle. Plastic straws tend to go through the screens that sift out the heavier objects in mechanical recycling plants due to their weight and size. 

As a result, they wind up in landfills or, even worse, our oceans. Because polypropylene is inexpensive to produce, the problem persists. In addition, there is minimal market for the recycling process’s product. It is less expensive for producers to start with fresh materials than using recycled resources.

Best ways to dispose of plastic straws

There are certain methods one can use in order to safely dispose of plastic straws. The following three methods are some of the most commonly used methods used.

  • Recycling Plastic Straws
  • Reusing Straws
  • Preventing Straw Waste

We shall discuss these methods in detail.

Recycling Plastic Straws

Check with your local trash management to see if #5 plastics are accepted. The majority of plastic straws are composed of polypropylene, a #5 recyclable materials.

To find out what sorts of plastics your city’s waste management organisation can handle, contact them or go to their website. You may gather and recycle your straws in the recycling bin if they can do #5 plastics.

If your major garbage collection provider does not take #5 plastics, go online for additional recycling options in your region. Other independent recycling centres may be able to help you recycle the plastic.

Keep a bigger plastic container made of the same material as the straw handy. #5 plastics can be used to gather straws in many takeaway food containers and margarine tubs. 

To ensure that your recycling is properly sorted, double-check the bottom of a plastic container to make sure it’s composed of #5 plastics. If there is any leftover food in the container, rinse it before placing it near the trash can.

Straws that aren’t in a container aren’t normally recycled since they’re too tiny to fit through the recycling center’s equipment.

Collect several containers so you’ll always have one to use after you’ve thrown away the first.

When you’re done with the straws, place them in the plastic container. Instead of throwing a straw in the garbage or recycling bin, keep it in the plastic container you salvaged. 

If necessary, cut the straws into smaller pieces with a pair of scissors so that they fit easily within the container. Continue to fill the container with plastic straws until it is completely full.

Before placing the plastic container in your recycle bin, seal it. When your container is completely full of plastic straws, place the lid on top and close it tightly to prevent the straws from spilling out.

Before the following pickup day, place the container in your usual recycling bin so that the city’s waste management department may collect it and properly recycle it.

If your recycling service does not accept #5 plastics, you will need to take them to a recycling centre.

Reusing Straws

Plastic straw bits can be used to label cables. Cut a plastic straw into 1 in (2.5 cm) long pieces if you have a lot of wires or plugs near your workstation.

Make a cut across one side of the straw piece with scissors so you can easily wrap it around a cord. Label the cord using a pen or marker so you know what you’re plugging in at a glance.

Use a piece of tape to tie the straw around the cord if it doesn’t stay in place.

Straws and zip ties may be used to make a fake bouquet. Fill a glass halfway with coloured straws and arrange them in a cylindrical form. To compress the straws together, wrap a zip tie over their cores and pull it tight.

The cores of the straws will bend as you tighten the zip tie, causing the ends to poke out in numerous directions, giving the appearance of a “flower.” To exhibit your bouquet, make many “flowers” and place them in a vase or glass.

You may use different coloured straws or use the same colour straws to make your “flower” seem homogeneous.

Make a bright centrepiece by decorating the exterior of a vase or candle holder. Wrap an empty vase or candle holder with a piece of double-sided tape. 

One by one, press the straws onto the tape until the bottoms of the straws are flush with the vase’s bottom. Continue to wrap straws around the glass until they’re level with the vase’s top, then cut them using scissors.

Make sure the straws aren’t touching the candle’s flame, otherwise they’ll melt and emit potentially hazardous vapours.

Preventing Straw Waste

When possible, drink without a straw. Don’t put a lid on a cup that forces you to sip it via a straw. Instead of using a straw, remove the lid from the cup and sip the beverage.

If a restaurant offers you a straw, decline it so that it does not need to be thrown away or cause waste. If you need to transport a drink, cover it with a lid to prevent spilling and remove the lid when you are at your destination.

Some businesses will only provide you with a straw if you specifically request one.

Reduce your usage of plastic by purchasing reusable straws. Reusable straws made of stainless steel, bamboo, or glass may be found online or at kitchen stores and can be used several times. 

Get a couple straws to bring with you, as well as some to take with you when you travel. Bring a reusable straw to restaurants or cafés so you may enjoy your drink without the use of a plastic straw.

You can also use compostable paper straws at some establishments. To prevent bacteria from growing within the straw, wash it after each usage.

Suggest to your pals that they use fewer straws. If you witness a buddy using a plastic straw, inquire as to whether they are aware of the potential environmental consequences of discarding it. 

Allow them to talk to you about what they can do to avoid using plastic straws or how they can help you promote awareness. Continue to educate people so that they are aware of the dangers of using straws in the future.

If some people still continue to choose or need to use plastic straws, don’t make them feel bad about it.

Conclusion

Plastic straws are a menace with respect to their impact as a pollutant. They can also affect animals that unknowingly try to ingest it as a food item. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that plastic straws are disposed of in the best way possible.

Plastic straws are recyclable, as they are made of polypropylene. However, they are not accepted by certain recycling plants. Therefore, it is important to separate plastic straws and categorise it along with other plastic waste that is generated from the total solid waste.

Plastic straws can also be reused. However, care should be taken as reusing plastic straws extensively can also cause harm to human health.

Lastly, if one wishes to reduce the total waste generated due to plastic straws, one can start by preventing themselves as well as their friends from using them, and suggesting alternatives such as paper straws or metal straws. However, if one does not wish to make the change, there is no need to force them to.

FAQs

Can plastic straws be composted?

Yes, plastic straws can be composted, but not in the common composting conditions present in one’s backyard. 

PLA straws need industrial composting conditions, which means that customers or companies must have access to a commercial compost facility, which is only available in specific areas of the United States.

PLA straws must be exposed to temperatures over 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days in order to compost, and they must be correctly directed to specialist industrial composting or recycling facilities. 

While this is achievable in a composting facility, PLA straws are difficult to break down.

Conventional plastic straws that are derived from petroleum-based plastics cannot be composted by either methods, as such plastics are resilient to biodegradation.

Are reusable straws good for the environment?

Yes, reusable straws are much better for the environment than the conventional plastic straws, due to various reasons.

For starters, because reusable straws are long-lasting and made of recyclable materials, they don’t need to be mass-produced in the same way that plastic straws do, and they also don’t contribute to pollution because they can be recycled.

Second, in addition to contributing to increased land pollution, a huge number of non-recycled plastic straws end up in the seas owing to improper disposal. 

As a consequence, they not only pollute the oceans, but they also disrupt the ecology and endanger marine life. Reusable straws, on the other hand, do not wind up in the ocean as frequently as regular plastic straws.

Finally, while plastic straws appear to be more cost-effective and pocket-friendly in the short term, their long-term cost is far higher than reusable straws, which initially cost a little more.

While plastic straws appear to be more cost-effective and pocket-friendly, they have a far higher long-term cost than reusable straws, which cost a little more to begin with.

References

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