If you are concerned about the environment, a positive change you can make today is eliminating single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics from your life when it is practical to do so.
According to the most recent statistics, at least 14 million tons of plastic is added to the ocean every year. Today, it makes up 80% of marine debris washed up onshore, a horrible statistic that showcases our impact on the planet.
One of these plastics is acrylic, a notoriously difficult to recycle plastic that is found in great quantities in the ocean and landfills.
Acrylic is used to make a wide range of products, including cheap bongs and pipes, which don’t last long and get thrown in the trash.
What’s the problem with acrylic?
The entire lifecycle of acrylic is bad for the environment.
Acrylic is not bio-degradable, and so when it enters the environment, it stays in the environment forever. No natural process on the planet will break it down, and it will only get broken down into smaller fragments of plastic.
The obvious solution is to recycle it so it doesn’t find its way into our oceans, waterways and landfill.
But acrylic is extremely difficult to recycle, and it is considered a Group 7 plastic, so it isn’t accepted in green waste bins.
This means you must take it to local recycling centres to dispose of it, but many councils don’t have the facilities for recycling acrylic. The acrylic gets sent to a landfill, usually in another country, after being shipped there.
The problem with acrylic recycling is it requires special handling and equipment, and most recycling facilities don’t have the facilities.
So, to sum up, acrylic is a polluting plastic that is hard to recycle. The ocean is full of the stuff, so reducing our usage of it is essential.
Where do acrylic bongs come into this?
Acrylic bongs are disposable items that are difficult to dispose of when broken and even more difficult to recycle. Ultimately, it is probable that your broken bong will find its way into the environment in some form.
So, what is the solution?
The solution is two-fold: bongs designed to last a lifetime and bongs made from widely recycled materials.
The obvious candidate is glass. Glass is widely recycled, and like aluminium, it has the advantage of being infinitely recyclable.
Water pipes and bongs from brands like Stündenglass, Session Goods, K. Haring, Marley Natural and Canada Puffin are built to last.
However, the type of glass used for bongs is borosilicate, which is not widely recycled in the UK. Borosilicate contains chemicals that alter the melting properties of glass, making it more difficult to recycle. Also, it can only make more borosilicate glass.
The good news is that borosilicate glass is still better for the environment than acrylic, and a growing number of facilities repurpose it for insulation and construction materials. It is the same glass used in laboratories, after all, which smash beakers for fun!