If you already recycle, try avoiding purchasing these three things: Juice boxes, single use plastic bags AND diapers: which are not just for babies, coming to baby boomers soon!
According to the San Fransisco state-of-the-art Recology recycling plant, these are their three main headaches. Also, I do remember Dr. Michael Braungart also mentioning how difficult it is to recycle and reuse colored plastic bottles. He recommended that if one has a choice to always, always stick with neutral, clear colored anything in the packaging and chemical world.
They are a perfect example of composites, a vexing category for recyclers that includes a wide range of items, like furniture, diapers, or consumer packaging that binds different materials together, such as plastics and metal and paper fibers. (The juice-box industry says a typical nonrefrigerated carton, as it’s called, includes 74 percent paper, 22 percent polyethylene and 4 percent aluminum.)
Those layers help preserve drinks, but also make the boxes extremely difficult to pull apart.
And to recycle, you must first sort. “It’s like separating an egg yolk from an egg,” Mr. Liss said of the composites problem. “It’s much easier to do before you stir it up.”
One possible solution is to create packaging that allows the materials to be more easily separated. Mr. Liss said an industry recycling group, The Carton Council, had been created to address the problem by developing additional sorting equipment. “The good news is that the industry is trying to figure it out,” Mr. Liss said. “They saw the problem, and they’re stepping up to address it.”