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Plastics // Knowledge Base

The Do's and Don'ts of Plastic Bottle Recycling

Did you know, that 70-80% of plastic bottles end up in landfill every year? We’ve identified the barriers to plastic bottle recycling, and tips on how to successfully recycle them.

Shelby Bell | December 28, 2017


People are always looking for ways to make their lives easier. One-time-use items like plastic bottles are appealing in today's fast-paced society because of their low cost and convenience. Once the item serves its purpose, you throw it away and you don't have to worry about it anymore. As a result, the demand for disposable plastic bottles have spiked over the years. They're appealing to consumers because they're small, cheap and easily accessible. However, did you know, that 70-80% of plastic bottles end up in landfill every year? With plastic being so recyclable, how do so many bottles end up as waste? Below, we've identified the challenges of plastic bottle recycling, and tips to successfully recycle them.


The Biggest Hurdles In Plastic Recycling

Every year, The Association of Plastic Recyclers and The American Chemistry Council team up to analyze the amount of plastic bottles collected for recycling and how many are actually recycled. They found that only 29.7% (or 2,906 million pounds) of used bottles were recycled in 2016, a 1.4% decrease from 2015. That may not seem like a huge difference, but it is 71 million pound less than the previous year. According to the report, the three main reasons why plastic recycling has decreased is as follows:

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The APR and ACC state that the problem boils down to the lack of awareness about plastic recycling. To solve this, research shows that educational materials are useful tools that increase recycling.

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The convenience of single stream recycling is very appealing to households because it's easy, but it often leads to contamination. It's best to separate your recyclables so they remain valuable.

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Consumers also attribute the decrease in plastic bottle recycling to few convenient opportunities to recycle in public places, like office spaces or venues. Offering easy and accessible recycling in your office will increase participation!


What Else You Need To Know

In hopes of increasing the number of recycled bottles, here are some more easy and useful tips to ensure your valuable items are recycled successfully.


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Keep The Caps On

There are may misconceptions about whether bottle caps can be recycled with the bottle or not. The Association of Plastic Recyclers set the record straight and said that caps can be recycled along with the bottle. They assured since technology has advanced, caps no longer need to be removed from the bottle, and different melting points are no longer an issue. The bottles are broken down and washed, then separated depending on material. Learn more about recycling caps here.


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What About Plastic Bags?

Thin plastic cannot be recycled at standard recycling facilities because they can get stuck in the machinery. However, they can be dropped off at local grocery or retail stores. You can find more information about where to drop off your plastic bags here.


With the current state of plastic bottle recycling, we encourage you to take the vow to recycle your plastic bottles as much as you can. Providing educational materials to your employees and making plastic recycling available in your office is a great way to make recycling easy and increase participation! Please leave us a comment below to let us know how your business has had success recycling plastic bottles! You can find the full report here.



Let's get the conversation started on how to drive recycling and cost savings for your business.