Reduce Plastic Consumption But Keep Recycling It July 12, 2020 Email Did you know that there is something you can do that’s even better than recycling plastic. You can avoid buying it in the first place! Here are a few reasons why avoiding plastic is the most eco-friendly choice. Plastics Are Made from Non-Renewable Sources Virgin plastics are made from petroleum and natural gas. Not only are both of these sources non-renewable but their extraction can also be hazardous for humans, animals and the environment. Not All Plastic Can or Will Be Recycled The EPA estimated that in 2017 only 3 million tons out of 35.4 million tons of plastic produced was recycled. That’s less than 9%. Why is this? Many reasons: some plastic used in durable goods that remain in use, some was used in materials — such as mixed material products — which cannot be recycled, some was improperly disposed of, and some was intentionally or unintentionally littered. Plastic Can Be Recycled Only 2-3 Times Unlike glass and metal which can be recycled indefinitely without significant degradation, plastic can be recycled only 2-3 times before it has to be downcycled into products like composite lumber. Even so, recycling plastic is very important because it greatly reduces the amount of virgin plastics that must be created to meet demand. Given the problems with plastic, it’s easy to see that reducing our plastic use in the first place is the way to go. After all, the phrase is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Recycling is last on the list because it’s the last resort. We are better environmental stewards when we put more effort into the first two Rs: Reduce and Reuse. Only when we can’t avoid a piece of plastic, or reuse it, is the best option to recycle it. See a full list of the plastics we recycle in San Luis Obispo County.