Town Square

Why do manufacturers still use molded plastic pkgs?

Original post made by Lisa, Greenmeadow, on Feb 20, 2007

I like to recycle or reuse whenever possible. I've noticed that most syrofoam packaging (eg. raw meat packages, styrofoam takeout packages and Jamba juice cups) are labelled as #6 recyclable, so I put them in my Palo Alto recycling bin. I'm impressed that many companies have been able to make their packaging recyclable. However, a LOT of items I've bought have a thick, clear plastic covering that is not labelled with the "triangle recycle #" and so I'm assuming it's not recyclable. This is really troubling, since this happens a lot -- eg. toys, electronics, etc. I even saw CostCo selling packages of fresh apples, encased in molded clear plastic. I couldn't believe the irony of that! Why is it that bottled water companies can come up with recyclable clear molded plastic bottles, yet other companies still don't have to comply? Why is our government allowing this massive amount of unrecyclable, molded plastic to be used in product packaging? I've written to a few of the companies to complain, but haven't gotten any response.


Posted by joyce
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Talk about annoying, what about "organic" egg packaging in hard clear non-recyclable packaging? At least that stuff is not recyclable in the town I've moved to. I've also emailed companies to complain, and generally not even gotten the courtesy of a reply.

Well, there's a response to this - don't buy stuff in this packaging, and let the company know why you aren't buying it.

Meanwhile, buying stuff online - why do companies still pack things using horrible non-recyclable stuff like inflated plastic bags or styrofoam peanuts instead of crumped newspapers or kraft paper. Another thing to complain about to the companies and not buy from them again. Although on ebay I ask the seller to use newspaper, etc.

Posted by Ruralite
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 21, 2007 at 11:55 am

Ever wonder what it takes to get an egg from the hen to your kitchen intact without any cracks or let alone breaks.

A LOT more than just packaging. Ever wonder it might be better to move to rural environments.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2007 at 1:10 pm

And of course there is the shoplifting problem that necessitates those impenetrable bubble packaging.

Posted by annette
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2007 at 3:20 am

I've noticed that most syrofoam packaging (eg. raw meat packages, styrofoam takeout packages and Jamba juice cups) are labelled as #6 recyclable, so I put them in my Palo Alto recycling bin.
None of the items you mention above are allowed in your recycling bin. Why? Because no one is making something from your plastic foam. Go to to find out what you can put in your bin.

While your plastic water bottle is recyclable, it is not likely made into another bottle, but will be "down-cycled" into sleeping bag filler or carpet. Very few plastic water bottles are made from recycled bottles and if they are the % of recycled plastic in the bottle is very little. The bottling companies use virgin plastic because it is cheaper.

The plastic triangle with the number inside is a labeling system created by the plastics industry. The number indicates the base resin of the plastic used to make whatever it is. It does not necessarily mean that the item is recyclable in your local program or at all, for that matter.

Plastic is petroluem based- need I say more? The petroluem and plastics lobbies are powerful, petroleum is heavily subsidized making it cheap. Plus companies are not held responsible for the waste their products create.

If you want to get involved to stop the plastics, try NRDC, Sierra Club, Earth Resource Foundation, or Algalita Marine Research Foundation. They may have a campaign against plastics you may be interested in and feel you can make a difference. But don't give up on letter writing. At some point a well organized campaign, letter writing and other methods, takes hold and there is a domino effect.