JULY 2011
                                        

Americans able to recycle most types of plastic

A study by Moore Recycling Associates Inc. found that a much larger portion of the United States population has ready access to recycle commonly used plastics than previously believed. Specifically the study, “Plastics Recycling Collection: National Reach Study,” found that 94 percent of Americans have access to recycle plastic bottles and 40 percent of the population also can recycle other types of plastic containers, such as yogurt cups, dairy tubs and lids.

Although the study surveyed nearly 2,500 communities across the United States, it found that within the 100 largest cities, the percentage of the population with access to recycle plastic containers in addition to bottles has nearly doubled since 2008.

The study did not look at recycling film plastics – a category that includes plastic bags and many product wraps – but it is well documented that these materials are collected separately at more than 12,000 locations across the country.

Recyclers, typically small community-based businesses, rely on consumers to recover a steady supply of used plastics, such as assorted bottles, containers, bags and wraps. Recycled plastics can be made into a variety of innovative products, including soft t-shirts, durable backyard decks, storage containers, car parts, decorative moldings and other home building products, cutting boards and even fashionable hand bags.

The study also noted that it is more effective to communicate which plastics are recycled in various communities by listing shapes (e.g., bottles, tubs, trays, lids, etc.) than by listing resin codes (numbers 1-7), which can be confusing.

ACC sponsored this study as part of a cooperative effort with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of the nonprofit GreenBlue, which is working to launch a new voluntary labeling system for the recycling of packaging. This initiative is designed to help consumers better understand how to recycle various packaging components and to provide a harmonized approach to consumer communication on recycling.