A plastic postcard can be used for several things like writing a letter on the front and mailing it. Plastic is not recycled very often because it needs to be heated to high temperatures to meltdown properly. The main types of plastic are discussed below.
Postcards made from vinyl usually contain PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) containing chlorine atoms. Chlorine atoms can react with water. Vinyl postcards will start breaking down when exposed to moisture, such as rain or humidity. This means that vinyl postcards are only good for one-time use.
Postcards that are made from polystyrene can consist of home-grade or industrial-grade material. Home-grade uses styrene in its unmodified form. Industrial-grade adds in butadiene and benzene to increase the strength of polystyrene. This makes it much stronger than other plastics used for making postcards.
Polyethene Terephthalate (PET)
Polyethene terephthalate (PET) is another type of plastic used to make postcards. This material consists of two monomers. Terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, also known as polyester. Postcards made with this material usually have recycling codes on them consisting of an arrow symbol that makes it easy to identify PET.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
While PVC is usually made into plastic pipes, it can also make certain postcards. These cards are not one hundred percent recyclable because they have a face paper layer. However, depending on their thickness, there may still be some recycling potential with this type of plastic. One good example of a plastic postcard made from PVC is a credit card with a hard shell protecting its magnetic strip and other important information.
Plasticized Polyvinyl Chloride
The last material that makes up most postcards is plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVAC). Similar to PVC, this material is not completely recyclable because it has a face paper layer covering its plastic shell. If these postcards are thrown in the recycling bin, most facilities will sort them out with other plastics and send them to landfills.
No matter which type of plastic is used to make postcards, the cards will not be recycled often because large amounts of heat are needed to melt them down properly. This process requires high temperatures around 500 degrees Celsius (932 F), which can help all by costly and impractical for most recycling centers.