Beyond Bottles

According to a study prepared by Moore Recycling Associates, recycling for non-bottle rigid plastics rose to 1.016 billion pounds in 2012, triple the amount recycled in 2007 when tracking of rigid plastics recycling began. Rigid plastics include containers and packaging, such as cups, trays, lids, and food tubs, as well as bulky items, such as crates, buckets, baskets, toys, and lawn furniture. About three-quarters of these items are made from either polypropylene (PP, #5) or polyethylene (PE/PET, #1).

Almost all recycling programs nationwide have long accepted plastic bottles and jugs, such as soft drink bottles, water bottles, milk jugs, and detergent jugs. However, non-bottle rigid plastics are new to the mix. More than 60% of U.S. residents now have access to non-bottle rigid plastic recycling, either at curbside or drop-off centers.

In 2012, 57% of the rigid plastics were processed in the United States and Canada, while the rest was exported, mainly to China. End uses for non-bottle rigid plastics include crates, buckets, pipes, automotive products, lawn and garden products, and industrial drums.

Not sure what plastics you can recycle? Find out by calling your local solid waste management organization or recycler or by visiting their websites.

The study by Moore Recycling Associates was funded by the American Chemistry Council.

Photo credit © Raweenuttapong | iStock | Thinkstock

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