Sustainability and Recycling

Plastics help us to do more with less in many ways. Because they’re durable, lightweight, and versatile, plastics can help reduce waste and consume less energy. Lighter packaging can mean lighter loads or fewer trucks and railcars are needed to ship the same amount of product, helping to reduce transportation energy, decrease emissions and lower shipping costs. For example, just 2 pounds of plastic can deliver 1000 ounces—roughly 8 gallons—of a beverage. Additionally, reusing refillable sports bottles and recycling your grocery bags, bottles or containers into new useful products can help conserve raw materials and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.


Plastics can help us reduce what we use and conserve resources and energy. Lightweight packaging and vehicles save weight and fuel on the road. Innovative plastic packaging protects food in shipment and keeps it fresher longer. High-tech plastic insulation saves energy to heat and cool buildings.


There are many ways to reuse plastic items at home. Old plastic toothbrushes, for example, can be used to clean around faucets or the corners of sinks and bathtubs.  Yogurt and margarine tubs can also be washed and put back to work. Yogurt cups, especially, are the perfect size for growing seedlings indoors before planting them outside.


Recycling plastics has never been easier. Today, 80 percent of Americans have easy access to plastics recycling opportunities, whether you participate in a municipal curbside program or live near a drop-off site. Recycling plastics helps valuable materials go on to live a second life as new products. Many people reuse plastics—things like storage bins, sealable food containers and refillable sports bottles. These types of items can be used over and over to reduce waste. The plastics industry supports recycling that is sustainable, economical and environmentally responsible. Since 1990, the plastics industry, as individual companies and through organizations such as ACC’s Plastics Division, has invested more than $2 billion to support increased recycling and educate communities in the United States.


Energy recovery is the process by which solid waste is converted into renewable energy or feedstock materials. Energy recovery is happening right now, powering homes and businesses, and it’s helping to address our growing population’s biggest challenges: energy independence, waste diversion, and climate change.

Energy Efficiency

By allowing manufacturers and consumers to do more with less, using plastics can help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life of a product or package.

Key Role for Chemical, Plastics Industries in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A recent study confirms key role for the chemical industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and highlights the important role of plastic products, such as building insulation, packaging, auto parts, and pipe.

Conserving Resources

The plastics industry endorses the practice of conserving resources and minimizing the environmental and health impacts of plastics and plastic products.  We support the use of:

  • Environmental and energy-efficiency criteria in product design and purchasing decisions, along with product safety, cost, performance and availability.

  • Environmental performance and energy criteria in product evaluations through a “systems” approach, using recognized life cycle analysis tools that include the entire “use” phase.

  • Sustainable product criteria that reflect consensus-based decision-making, best available science, transparency, and openness to ALL stakeholders.

ACC’s Plastics Division supports sustainability initiatives that are conducted in accordance with these principles.

The Plastics Division is a founding member of the World Plastics Council (WPC), an organization comprised of executives from leading companies that produce plastic resin. The WPC provides a platform for member companies to efficiently address common issues, and to have a common voice on issues with global reach.