Can You Recycle Black Plastic? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Without realizing it, you are likely using black plastic every week. This is because it’s found on various items, including single-use coffee lids and disposable food packaging, to make the food look more appealing. 

But when all is said and done, can you recycle black plastic? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Black Plastic?

Black plastic is technically recyclable, but that does not mean it always is. Additionally, waste sorting systems have a challenging time recognizing black pigments, which means plenty of black plastic ends up in landfills. Therefore, to help the environment, opt to avoid black plastic and check with local recycling companies to see what they accept beforehand.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about recycling black plastic and more!

Can You Recycle Black Plastic?

When it comes to recycling black plastic, the answer isn’t so simple. Yes, black plastic can be recycled, however, that doesn’t mean it always is. 

Furthermore, there are a few issues that come from recycling black plastic, including:

  • Only recyclable into other black plastic items – Black plastic can only be recycled into other black plastic items, leaving the options limited. Due to the lack of variety, this type of plastic isn’t sought after for reuse (unfortunately).
  • It may be toxic – Some black plastic items are designed using electronic waste. Needless to say, this renders the product contaminated with toxic ingredients. Therefore, it can’t be recycled and reused to make food-grade items.
  • Low market value – Black plastic takes up less than 1% of the plastic world and therefore is not highly sought after by recycling and reuse companies. 
  • Can’t be seen on some sorting machines – Perhaps the biggest challenge with black plastic is that sorting machines simply can’t see the black pigments of the plastic. Therefore, they end up in landfills unless the items are handpicked and recycled, which requires more time, energy, and money on behalf of the recycling company.
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How To Dispose Of Black Plastic

While black plastic is recyclable, it is not always recycle-friendly. 

In fact, recycling black plastic can do more harm than good. 

This is because recycling companies typically will not spend the time to sort out black plastic by hand, which means it is sent to landfills or incinerators. 

Furthermore, the problem with this is that black plastic is not biodegradable. 

Therefore, it will sit in a landfill for millions of years and take up much-needed space while harming the environment. 

Additionally, if it is incinerated, the release of toxic chemicals damages the ozone layer.

Sadly, neither are ideal situations for helping the environment. 

With that said, how should you dispose of black plastic in the least harmful way? Continue reading for a few tips!

Avoid Black Plastic Entirely

The single greatest way to dispose of black plastic is to avoid it from the get-go. 

This may be easier than it sounds as a lot of companies are deciding to do away with black plastic for good due to the large amount of stress it places on the environment.

However, some companies are still using black plastic because it is handy and can make their product appear more appealing to the public, such as the case with disposable food containers.

Furthermore, while you should strive to avoid black plastic if you end up with black plastic in your possession, don’t panic – there are other solutions for disposal.

Reuse Or Repurpose Black Plastic Items

Some black plastic items can be reused or repurposed in some way, for example, a black food container can be washed out and used again. 

Furthermore, this is a cost-effective option for lunches on the go or meal prepping. 

Additionally, black plastic cutlery can also be washed and reused.

Check Local Recycling Companies

It is getting harder and harder to find recycling companies that accept black plastic because of all the difficulties with recycling it. 

However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a company that will accept black plastic.

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Therefore, check to see which local locations may accept black plastic. 

However, if you can’t find a recycling company to take your items, you will need to reuse, repurpose, or place them in your trash bin.

Take Black Plastic Bags To Any Recycling Place

Black plastic bags do not pose the same risk as black plastic items because they are generally not sorted by a machine as they can jam it. 

However, you should not place black plastic bags in your recycling container. 

Furthermore, they must be dropped off and meet recycling requirements: clean, dry, and stretchy. 

Put In The Trash Can – Not Recycling Bin

While your curbside bin is especially handy for recycling, it is not suitable for black plastic.

Therefore, do not put black plastic in your curbside bin unless you have clear guidance from your country to do so. Otherwise, it may end up in a landfill or incinerator. 

Additionally, the better option for disposing of black plastic is to repurpose it or throw it in the trash bin, not the recycling bin.

Why Is Black Plastic Bad?

Why Is Black Plastic Bad?

Black plastic is not, in itself, “bad” as it can be reused, repurposed, and recycled without too many problems. 

Therefore, the main issue lies in the fact that it is very hard for sorting machines to pick up the black charcoal pigments of this plastic which is why it’s typically sent to landfills or incinerators. 

Can You Recycle Colored Plastic?

Colored plastics can sometimes face the same challenges as black plastic – there simply is no market for reusing and recycling colored plastics. 

Of course, it somewhat depends on the color of the plastic as brighter-colored plastics may have an easier time being recycled into something else. 

That’s because they can be recycled into a darker shade, if necessary.

Furthermore, a darker pigmented piece of plastic can’t be recycled into lighter colors, which means it won’t have as much variety in the marketplace.

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Is Black Plastic Cheaper?

Furthermore, black plastic is notably a cheap option when it comes to plastic materials. 

That’s because low-value colored plastics can be recycled and repurposed into black plastic. 

For example – various brighter colors can be dyed and turned into a black plastic container or piece of cutlery.

Unfortunately, that is why many businesses opt for black plastic, Not only is it a cheaper option, but it is aesthetically pleasing. 

However, the low price of black plastic isn’t worth the risk it’s placing on the environment, which is why plenty of businesses are opting out of using black plastic for good.

Is Black Plastic Toxic?

Some black plastics are created with toxic materials such as heavy metals, electronic waste, or flame retardants. 

These are not only damaging to your health, but they are also damaging to the environment. 

This is especially true when black plastic is tossed into a landfill and taken to an incinerator. 

Then, the toxins are burned and released into the environment, destroying the ozone layer.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle ice cream cartons, whether you can recycle hair brushes, and whether you can recycle greeting cards.

Conclusion

Black plastic is recyclable, however, it goes unnoticed and is tossed into landfills or incinerators which is damaging to the environment and your health. Therefore, it is better to try and avoid it altogether, which will become far easier as more companies are refusing to use black plastic.

However, if you do end up with black plastic items, it’s best to reuse or repurpose them somehow. Additionally, try and find a recycling company that will take black plastic – and actually recycles it, or throw it into your trash bin instead of the recycling bin.

Author

  • Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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