Plastic-free July, minimize plastic waste all year long

July 19, 2023
  |   1 Comment

Blog post by Ilana Williams, Montgomery County 2023 Summer Climate Intern

Plastic-free July is a global initiative to help countries be part of the solution to plastic pollution. This worldwide campaign encourages consumers to reduce single-use plastic during the month of July.

Oil is a source of raw material for making plastics, but it is not the major source. In the U.S. plastic is made from natural gas and feedstocks, raw materials used for manufacturing another product.

Bins for recycling and trash at the entrance to Huntington station

Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Rise of Plastics Production

Low U.S. natural gas prices have helped increase domestic plastic production after a decline from the 2008 recession, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Plastic resin, a form of unprocessed plastic, is one of the largest energy consumers in the manufacturing sector.

The raw material for all packaging plastics is ethylene, a gas derived from natural gas or crude oil, according to Ecology Center. Producing and refining ethylene uses a lot of energy that requires combustion to achieve high reaction temperatures and refrigeration to achieve low temperatures to condense and separate gases.

Plastics are a growing section of municipal solid waste, according to the EPA. Plastic containers and packaging had the most plastic tonnage at over 14.5 million tons in 2018 and have produced over 36 million tons in 2023.


Reduce Single-use Plastic

To reduce single-use plastic, use reusable shopping bags. Also, buy items in bulk because there is less packaging and keep an eye out for packaging that is recyclable in the county.

Polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET, is a strong, clear and lightweight plastic that is 100% recyclable. It’s used for water bottles, shampoo bottles, soda bottles and plastic cups. PET plastic can be easily washed and melted down.

To further reduce waste, use water filters and refillable pitchers instead of purchasing single-use plastic bottles and choose rechargeable batteries. By using reusable containers in the kitchen, residents can reduce the amount of waste. Use ceramic mugs, pack lunches in a reusable lunch bag and use silverware and reusable utensils.

FEMA - 10617 - Photograph by Michael Rieger taken on 09-10-2004 in Florida

Michael Rieger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Residential Recycling

Montgomery County provides curbside recycling collection service for all single-family households in the non-municipal areas of the County as well as a public drop off area at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station for materials that can’t be collected at the curb. Items accepted at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station include mattresses, electronic items, batteries and motor oil.

Although, Montgomery County does not provide recycling collection service for residents at multi-family properties, the county offers recycling and newsletters for multi-family residents to learn more about recycling.

Mayor Coleman emptying recycling bins - DPLA - 4ad3c225042ce22d421165892842f4d4

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How to Recycle

In Montgomery County, there are mandatory recycling requirements for recycling mixed paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and foil products, bi-metal cans, and plastic bottles, jars, containers and more. Yard trimmings, grass clippings, leaves and Christmas trees (remove all lights, garland and ornaments) are also mandatory recyclable materials.

Learn more about recyclable items in the county.


One comment on "Plastic-free July, minimize plastic waste all year long"

  1. mcdvoice says:

    Plastic-Free July is a global initiative aimed at tackling plastic pollution by encouraging individuals and countries to reduce their use of single-use plastics throughout the month of July. While oil is a raw material for making plastics, in the United States, plastics are primarily made from natural gas and other feedstocks, which are also used in the production of other products. Low natural gas prices in the U.S. have led to an increase in domestic plastic production following a decline during the 2008 recession. Plastic resin, a form of unprocessed plastic, is a significant energy consumer in the manufacturing sector.

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