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Progress in Plastics Recycling



Plastics’ recycling is a growing industry in the United States with nearly 18,000 companies handling and reclaiming post-consumer plastics.

Recycling programs can vary from place to place, but most community curbside programs recycle plastic bottles, and many large grocery and retail chains now offer bins to collect plastic bags and wraps for recycling. So, there’s a very good chance you chance you can recycle these common items where you live. In 2011, Americans recycled more than 5.3 billion pounds of plastics.

Tip to Help You Recycle More of the Plastics You Use:

  • Bottles Go Curbside: Make sure to include any plastic beverage bottles, food jars (e.g., peanut butter and mayonnaise), and bottles from shampoo, toiletries, laundry detergent and other household cleaners. Give them a quick rinse and don’t forget to include your caps by twisting them back on your bottles before you place them in your recycling bin. In 2012, over 2.8 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in the United States, and the plastic bottle recycling rate climbed to more than 30 percent. A recent survey shows that 94 percent of Americans can recycle their bottles and caps locally. » view full report

  • Bags and Wraps Go Back to Grocery Stores or Retailers: Remember to include your grocery and retail bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and wraps from bread, bathroom tissue, paper towels, beverage cases, diapers and baby wipes. In 2012, more than one billion pounds of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in the United States—up 56 percent from 2005. » view full report

  • Check to See if Other Plastic Containers Are Recycled Curbside in Your Area: More and more communities are recycling plastic containers in addition to bottles. Check your community’s website to see if to see if to see if they collect yogurt cups, butter tubs, deli containers, lids and other plastics. In 2012 nearly 1.02 billion pounds of these materials were recycled nationwide. » view full report

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