This Is Plastics: Recycling 101

Plastics 101

Recycling 101

Explore how traditional recycling, chemical recycling and energy recovery technologies create value from used plastics.


Top 3 Takeaways

Plastics are an extremely important part of our daily lives—and their proper disposal is extremely important as well. Recycling is the key to saving energy and keeping plastics out of oceans and landfills. That’s why the industry is innovating to explore the many ways plastics can be recycled or turned into energy.

No matter the material—aluminum, glass, paper or plastic—we all need to do our part and use it responsibly by reusing, recycling or recovering.

There are a variety of ways to recover value from used plastics, including traditional recycling, also called mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and energy recovery technologies. While these processes are very different, they all complement one another. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Traditional recycling:

    This is the type of recycling consumers are most familiar with. It’s what happens to the plastic products people place in their recycling bins. The multi-step process results in materials that are converted into new plastic products.

  • Advanced recycling:

    Also known as plastics to feedstocks, this process involves heating plastics to break them down. It turns polymers back into monomers, meaning a plastic bottle can be broken down into plastic building blocks that can be used to make another plastic bottle.

  • Energy Recovery Technologies:

    This process turns landfill-bound plastics into reliable and renewable energy sources. Plastics that can’t otherwise be recycled can be used to create electricity and types of fuels. If we use plastics for energy recovery, we can reduce the volume of waste going to landfills by 80%.

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