Friday, February 26, 2010
Plastics #1 is the designated number for all plastic containers made with Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PETE for short. Polyethylene (and all its variations) is the most widely produced plastic in the world, and for good reason. Used to make everything from soda and water bottles to trash bags to peanut butter jars to oven-safe food containers, the plastics in this category are the most easily recycled. They are also the least likely to leach chemicals when heated, which makes it the safest choice for food and beverage containers by far.
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate is actually in high demand; manufacturers use it to make polar fleece, furniture, carpeting, and occasionally new containers. Despite its many (re)uses, the recycling rate for #1 plastics remains quite low; several reports claim it to be as low as 20% in some areas. This is especially surprising because some programs, such as California's Bottle Bill, offer a monetary refund for the return and recycling of containers made from plastics #1.
So when in doubt, just think of PETE. PETE's your buddy, PETE's your pal! C'mon, Chicagoans-- Recycle PETE so manufacturers have a cost-effective and responsible way of making all those products we want to buy! And just think, purchasing those re-manufactured products will be much more rewarding without having a guilty eco-conscience; I don't think there's any such thing as green-buyers' remorse.