- All plastic bottles, cups and containers
- Milk jugs, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, etc.
- Dairy containers & lids
- Deli, Bakery & Produce Containers & lids
- Empty container, rinse and replace caps and lids
- Not necessary to remove labels
- Plastic Bags, Wrap or Film (Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores)
- Motor oil containers
While overall recovery of plastics for recycling is relatively small—2.1 million tons, or 6.8 percent of plastics generation in 2008—recovery of some plastic containers has reached higher levels. PET soft drink bottles were recovered at a rate of 37 percent in 2008. Recovery of HDPE milk and water bottles was estimated at about 28 percent in 2008.
Plastics are recycled for both economic and environmental reasons. Recycling and reuse of plastics have the obvious benefit of decreasing the amount of used plastics that end up in landfills. With increased plastics recycling, fewer natural resources need to be extracted to produce virgin plastic.
According to APC, plastics production accounts for 4 percent of US energy consumption. Though they are derived from nonrenewable natural resources, plastics’ adaptable characteristics often enable manufacturers to reduce the material used, energy consumed, and waste generated in making a variety of products.
Markets for Recovered Plastics
Markets for some recycled plastic resins, such as PET and HDPE, are stable in most geographical areas in the United States and are expanding in many others. Currently, both the capacity to process post-consumer plastics and the market demand for recovered plastic resin exceed the amount of post-consumer plastics recovered from the waste stream. The primary market for recycled PET bottles continues to be fiber for carpet and textiles, while the primary market for recycled HDPE is bottles, according to APC.
In the future, new end uses for recycled PET bottles might include coating for corrugated paper and other natural fibers to make waterproof products like shipping containers. PET can even be recycled into clothing, such as fleece jackets. Recovered HDPE can be manufactured into recycled-content landscape and garden products, such as lawn chairs and garden edging.
The plastic lumber industry also is beginning to expand. New American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and test methods are paving the way for use of these materials in decks, marinas, and other structural applications for both residential and commercial properties.
Source reduction is the process of reducing the amount of waste that is generated. The plastics industry has successfully been able to reduce the amount of material needed to make packaging for consumer products. Plastic milk jugs weigh 30 percent less than they did 20 years ago. Plastic packaging is generally more lightweight than its alternatives, such as glass, paper, or metal.