Can You Recycle Bread Tags? FAQs on Hard-to-Recycle Items
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Recycling is becoming more accessible for more items. Still, countless items are challenging to process — can you recycle bread tags? The recycling industry is innovating, finding new ways to take care of small or complexly made items for a more circular economy. Many items contain qualities of currently recyclable materials, but does that mean they can go in the bin?
Dive deeper into the complex world of material composition to see how humans can adjust products to be more recycling-friendly or how recycling companies can improve their operations to accommodate these items.
Can You Recycle Bread Tags?
Most municipal recycling programs don’t accept small plastic items for several reasons. Small, oddly shaped items tend to get stuck in the sorting machinery. If these items aren’t hand-recycled, they often hinder the process more. Regardless, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to avoid throwing bread tags in the trash can.
Bread tags are made of polystyrene, commonly known as plastic #6. While challenging to recycle in its own right, it’s not impossible. With many hard-to-recycle items, DIY enthusiasts have countless avenues to upcycle them, including holiday ornament hangings, bookmarks, and guitar picks. Nonprofits like Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs and Danielle Cares for Chairs have been able to connect with recyclers to construct basic wheelchairs.
Can You Recycle Event Wristbands?
Whether you’re walking into a club or local fair, festival wristbands are deceptively elaborate creations. Dupont’s made a synthetic polyethylene called Tyvek, which made the lightweight event staples with the express intent that they would be hard to rip. However, this meant using waterproof materials and adhesives to ensure events didn’t have issues with security or wear and tear.
These wristbands are not recyclable in any way. However, brands have responded to this oversight by creating more eco-friendly alternatives — some are even compostable. Some events removed bracelets entirely for alternative forms of entry verification or collect and reuse wristbands.
Can You Recycle Bubble Wrap?
Most manufacturers make bubble wrap from number #4 plastic, which is low-density polyethylene (LDPE). LDPE is recyclable. However, most recycling facilities do not accept it because it clogs machinery, but other places will take it as a drop-off. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to make it easy for the recycler:
- Pop every bubble.
- Research centers or retailers that accept bubble wrap.
- Drop it off and make it a consistent habit.
Can You Recycle Books?
Books are beloved by many, containing nostalgia and memories from our lives. Plenty debate about the sustainability of the publishing industry and if humans need to continue printing physical books. In the meantime, different types of books require extra forms of recycling attention.
Most choose to donate books to a secondhand bookstore in hopes someone else will find the stories and give them a second chance at life. Others may prefer more permanent methods. Every book has an adhesive that binds the paper to the spine, making recycling the book as one unit challenging. With this in mind, you can separate the book into its parts.
Paperback books could be 100% recyclable depending on how much adhesive is present, the ink colors, if the paperback cover is truly paper, or if it contains unique glosses or coatings. With hardback books, you can cut the pages out and recycle those individually. The rest isn’t recyclable, but at least the bulk of the book is repurposed.
Can You Recycle Rubber Bands?
In short, there aren’t any systems in place to recycle rubber bands. However, unless they snap, people can reuse them until they do. Schools and offices may accept rubber bands, saving their budgets a few dollars.
Rubber bands, like most items in landfills, will eventually biodegrade. Because of their size and composition, it wouldn’t take as long for rubber bands to biodegrade in the right conditions — it’s still about 50 years, though. This assumes the rubber bands stay in the same environment, whereas animals or wind, for example, could move them to new places, negatively impacting other ecosystems.
Relying on biodegrading isn’t a great alternative because microplastics and other contaminants could eventually seep into agriculture or other animals’ diets.
Can You Recycle Plastic Foam?
Plastic foam comprises various innocuous items, including packing materials, take-out containers, and party cups. Styrofoam is one of the significant brands influencing this market, and even some of it is made of LDPE, like bubble wrap. So, doesn’t this mean it can be recycled?
A lot of foam is expanded polystyrene (EPS), making it one of the most durable on the market. It isn’t meant to break down. Because of its porous makeup, few recycling centers take it to sort or clean to an industry standard.
Most advocate for reduced usage to solve the problem so humans can repurpose the EPS stocks present. Every product relying on EPS could use other materials for their products that are more widely accepted by recycling programs.
Can You Recycle Plastic Hangers?
Most plastic hangers are plastic #6 or #7, making them difficult if not impossible to recycle due to their weird shape. They present another situation where humans should shift their habits regarding plastic hangers and find homes that need them.
Reach out to dry cleaners, hospitals, or shelters to see if they need donations. Clothing shoppers can make an effort to avoid taking hangers home with them and instead leave them with the store to reuse for further merchandise.
Plastic hangers are like pennies — there are enough of them in circulation to where humans probably don’t need to make any new ones to meet the current need. Plus, hangers can be made of many more sustainable materials like bamboo or metal.
Will Our Recycling Habits Change?
Many objects still need a circular life cycle. Recycling companies can increase their capabilities and companies can reevaluate how they make products, so they’re simpler to reuse and repurpose. Even though these items may seem inconsequential, they add up over time, increasing the global waste problem. Each step to reimagine products for a cyclical life is another move toward the most sustainable future.
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About the author
Steve is the Managing Editor of Environment.co and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.