The Dilemma of Recycling BOPP
There are always those tricky items when it comes to what is recyclable and what is not; this is especially true for plastics.
Plastics are confusing because they can be classified as recyclable even when they are not locally recycled.
Why? The recycling logo is in the public domain meaning that everyone can use it and put it on their labels.
It is important to distinguish between what is recyclable and what is recycled. Not all recyclables are recycled. Labelling and designs of products are mostly done by marketing teams; so the best way to know if an item is getting locally recycled is to find out if your local recycling processor accepts the item.
Let us take a look at BOPP, a confusing plastic.
BOPP stands for Biaxial Oriented Polypropylene. It is a form of polypropylene plastic (PP) #5 that is often used for packaging sweets, chocolate-slab packets and potato chips. Since it is made from PP, BOPP packaging does feature the recycling logo on them.
This material, BOPP, is in abundance in society. It is no surprise then that we find a lot of it in the recycling bags.
Is it getting locally recycled?
Yes and no.
First, yes it is. There are two companies known to us (Regenize) that recycle BOPP - Transpaco and Atlantic Plastics. However, they only recycle the factory waste of BOPP. That is, they collect the clean cut-offs from factories then recycle them.
Second and most importantly, no, because it is not accepted for recycling from the public.
The above-stated companies do not accept it. BOPP is a cheap and light material, so to collect them from various collection points, transport them, have them washed, probably disinfected too then recycle them would not make economic sense.
The post-consumer BOPP packaging is sometimes dirty or stained with food. When BOPP products do find their way to a recycling processor, some processors that do not have washing facilities cannot wash it. Those who have washing facilities find it difficult to wash them.
Due to the size and lightweight of BOPP products; they cannot be effectively sorted at recycling processors due to the tendency of them falling off the conveyor belt as it moves and vibrates.
Since pre-consumer BOPP from factories is recycled, it is labelled as recyclable. This does not mean you should recycle it though, it remains that it is not recyclable to the public. We do not want to send BOPP items to the landfill for you.
As Regenize, we are a company that aims to bring sustainable behaviour change and we do believe that being knowledgeable is the key to achieving that. If you can understand that BOPP is a recyclable item yet post-consumer BOPP is not recycled in South Africa, you are great!
Avoid BOPP where you can.
Do not throw it into your recycling bag but in the non-recyclables bin.
Share this information with others so that they can also recycle properly.