PENCINTA ALAM AUGUST 2010
GREEN LIVING COLUMN: THE PLASTICS QUIZ
How much do you know about plastics and their uses and dangers? Test your knowledge by attempting the quiz below!
Q1: Plastics appear in which of the following?
(a) Your clothes
(b) Your carpets
(c) Our food
(d) All of the above
Q2: Which plastic resin does not transmit harmful chemicals into our food?
(a) #4 low-density polyethylene
(b) #3 polyvinyl chloride
(c) #7 polycarbonate
Q3: As long as plastics are disposed of in recycling bins, it will be recycled.
True or False?
Q4: If a plastic container or package is stamped with a number in a Mobius Loop (i.e. the triangular 'recycling' symbol), it can be recycled.
True or False?
Q5: Plastics can now be grown in a field and biodegrade after disposal.
True or False?
Q1: (D) - From the fibres in our clothes and carpets, the inks used to dye them and even the plastic we throw out that works its way back into the food chain, plastic is everywhere. It's important to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Not all plastics can be recycled --- plastic bags, Styrofoam and clingfilm packaging can't be recycled. Vote with your money and your voice to let manufacturers know that we want more eco-friendly packaging.
Q2: (A) - Plastics labelled #4, as well as those labelled #2 high-density polyethylene and #5 polypropylene, have not been found to transmit any harmful chemicals into our food. #1 polyethylene (PET), used in disposable drinking water and carbonated drink bottles, is also a relatively safe plastic, although research has found antimony, a heavy metal, in water stored in #1 bottles for long periods of time.
Q3: FALSE - Just because a recycling collection centre accepts all types of plastic in its recycling programme doesn't necessarily mean that all that is collected will be recycled. The collected plastic products are usually taken to a sorting facility / materials recovery facility, where recyclable plastics are separated from non-recyclable plastics. Non-recyclable plastics are then thrown away with regular rubbish.
Q4: FALSE - The numbers in the Mobius Loop are only there to indicate which type of plastic resin the containers or packaging are made of. Not all resins are recycled, mostly due to economic reasons. Recycling facilities are paid by weight and therefore prefer heavier plastics. Some types of plastics are more difficult and expensive to recycle than others. Plastics like lightweight #6 polystyrene foam and #3 PVC must be recycled in huge quantities to reap a profit at all, so most programmes exclude these from being recycled.
Q5: TRUE -- New containers and packaging made from polylactic acid (PLA) can be made from a variety of plants, including potatoes, corn and sugar cane. These plants all contain a sugar called dextrose, which is separated from the plants, fermented, dehydrated and then crystallised to form PLA polymers that can take the place of plastics in many products!