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Detectability - Major Hurdle to recycling

A small, light plastic item is on a one way ticket to the landfill. The sorters at the recyclers can see the unique wavelengths providing there is enough mass. The irony - reduce the wall thickness to reduce cost and source reduction a/k/a "downgauging" or "lightweighting" and you trade off recyclability. If there is not enough mass, the sorter can't see it.



Our accountant says it is irrational for us to advocate the minimum thickness possible because it reduces sales.


Did you know ?

Aluminum foil detection is done by magnetism. So if you want your used foil to be detected, compress it into a tight ball. Aluminum is practically infinitely recyclable as it takes about 242 cycles to start breaking down.


Plastic recyclers have sorters which identify the unique wave lengths of polymers then divert them to the specific polymer. A critical mass is requisite for identification.



Using the case method, let's look at Keurig. They have gone out of their way to make recyclable polypropylene #5 with the thinnest wall ( " gauge " ) possible. Their cups are too small to be detected by the sorting machines. Compostable K cups are on the market; that's another discussion.


We are honest about the realities and practicalities of environmentally responsible packaging so we do not greenwash. Presently thin plastic films and small plastic items like aluminum while recyclable are not practically recyclable. At some point, technology will evolve to make these items recyclable. Meantime, using less raw material is the shortest route to sustainable packaging.








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