In the recycling world, zip ties fall into a category called single-use plastics. This means you use it once, then throw it away. Furthermore, single-use plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of rivers and oceans.
So what do you do with those little pieces of plastic if you are trying to make a difference, even in small ways, to the health of the planet? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!
Can You Recycle Zip Ties?
Most zip ties can be recycled as a number seven on plastic recycling charts. However, they may not be accepted in curbside containers. This is because small, straight objects, like zip ties and plastic straws, can cause jamming in recycling machinery which is hard to fix.
If you are concerned about the impact of plastic on the environment, what can you do with those used zip ties that accumulate around the house? How can they be recycled? Is it possible to reuse them? Are there safer alternatives? Keep reading to find the answers to these questions!
What Are Zip Ties Made from?
Most zip ties are made of nylon, a very strong, lightweight plastic.
- In plastic recycling charts, nylon is categorized as a number seven plastic.
- Plastics are melted in order to recycle them.
- Nylon melts at a lower temperature than most plastics, so it can be easily recycled and used in making other nylon products, like clothes.
Chemical-resistant zip ties are made of polypropylene, which has a much higher melting point and is also recyclable.
It is also resistant to stress, which makes it a better choice for some users of zip ties.
Additionally, heavy-duty zip ties, often called cable ties, can be made from stainless steel, a fully recyclable material.
Furthermore, stainless steel zip ties are very strong and can withstand high temperatures.
However, hook and loop zip ties, also known as VELCRO®, are made from nylon.
Interestingly, Velcro also has small amounts of vinyl and polyester added.
Therefore, in the melting process of recycling, the vinyl can be removed, but it is very difficult to separate the nylon and the polyester.
So while they are reusable, Velcro ties are not recyclable.
Are Zip Ties Biodegradable?
Nylon, polypropylene, and stainless steel zip ties are not biodegradable. However, some companies now produce biodegradable zip ties.
This means, though, that if you are planning to use your zip ties outdoors, you will want to consider how long you need them to last.
As most biodegradable zip ties should last up to two years.
How Do You Recycle Zip Ties?
Before you throw your zip ties into your recycling bin, you need to check with your local recycling center or city waste management site.
You’ll need to do this as small straight pieces of plastic, like zip ties, plastic straws, and plastic silverware can cause recycling sorting machines to jam.
In Tucson, Arizona, recycling is considered a high priority.
Furthermore, a representative from the city recycling center said that anything smaller than a tennis ball generally falls through the machine.
Therefore, these items are often not acceptable in your curbside recycling bin.
So, if you want to recycle your zip ties and curbside pick-up is not an option, you may need to set aside a container to collect your ties.
Once you have a good number, there may be a local recycling center where you can drop them off.
Are There Alternatives To Using Zip Ties?
There are good reasons for using alternatives to zip ties such as nylon is a petroleum-based product that releases dangerous greenhouse gases when produced.
However, there are other options for holding your cords together (and most other uses) for zip ties.
- Reusable zip ties
- Rope or cotton packing string
- Homemade cable ties
Reusable Zip Ties
Many companies have begun making reusable zip ties.
These ties can be used over and over by simply pressing the release lever and pulling the tie back through the lock.
Therefore, your unlocked tie is ready to be used again whenever you need it. HS Reusable Ties are an example of the releasable ties.
Some reusable ties are also eco-friendly, which usually means they are made of recycled materials just check the packaging to find this information.
Additionally, many people don’t know that traditional zip ties can also be released and reused.
Furthermore, to unlock the tie, slide a thin, sharp object like a knife blade under the tooth of the tie, lift it slightly, and pull the tie back through the lock.
If you know how to tie a knot, twine is an easy substitute for zip ties.
Twine is also much more environmentally friendly than nylon as it is often made of hemp, sisal, or jute, all of which are biodegradable
However, be sure you are not choosing a nylon twine, as that may cause the product not to be recyclable.
Here are some knots that will work well for tying your twine:
Pick your choice of twine and learn to tie a knot!
Homemade Zip Ties
You can also make your own zip ties at home with stretchy cord and spring-loaded cable locks.
Furthermore, watch this video for an easy explanation of the process.
However, remember that your cord may be made with nylon, so check the package to see if it is recyclable first.
How To Reuse And Upcycle Zip Ties?
Zip ties are very useful products and there are many creative ways to use them in the home and yard.
- You can hang almost anything with a zip tie
- Strap them around cabinet door handles to childproof your kitchen
- Attach them to a tree while hiking to mark your trail
- Use them in the garden to attach plants to stakes
- Tie a sign to a fence
- You can even make a cell phone holder for your bike with them
Standard nylon ties are accessible and relatively inexpensive and they can be used quickly and easily. Additionally, it is helpful to know that they are also recyclable, depending on the recycling guidelines for your area.
However, if zip ties are not accepted by recycling centers in your city, you may want to consider one of the alternatives to traditional zip ties that are mentioned above. Furthermore, by reusing your zip ties as a way to keep them out of landfills you are contributing to a healthier planet!