This Is Plastics: The Potential of Recycled Plastics

Plastics 101

The Potential of Recycled Plastics

Making new products with recycled plastics requires 66% less energy than using raw plastic materials.


Top 3 Takeaways

The process of recycling is a mystery to most. People drop a water bottle into a recycling bin, and that’s where it ends. They wonder what happens next. Does recycling really make a difference? How is it better for the planet and the economy than simply putting things in landfills where trash goes? We can help you answer these questions. See how plastics industry members are leading by example when it comes to recycling.

The truth is, recycled plastics do make a difference. Recycling and other alternatives to putting plastics in landfills, such as conservation and composting, have a positive economic impact—these industries create many more jobs than landfills.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste, properly managed curbside recycling programs can cost anywhere from $50 to $150+ per ton. Trash collection and disposal programs can cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 per ton. While the difference in price isn’t massive, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.

Full water bottles in a line with text overlayed on topPlastic bottle tops with overlayed text

When we use recycled plastics to make new plastic products, we conserve more than materials. We can reduce energy usage by 66%. Plus, for every one ton of plastic we recycle, we save the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline.

From consumers recycling plastic bottles to manufacturers using recycled plastics in the products they make, our combined recycling efforts make a huge difference. The more we recycle, the greater our positive impact can be.

When it comes to recycled plastic bottles, a small number actually become plastic bottles again. More often, they’re used to make car parts, clothing, shows, pens and more. Coca-Cola and furniture maker Emeco partnered to create the 111 Navy® chair from recycled bottles. After five years, the chair helped divert more than 15 million plastic bottles from landfills.

a series of plastic water bottles shown above one red NAVY chairA map of the United States shown over a black and white image of plastic bottles

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, 92% of U.S. residents in communities of more than 284,600 people have access to plastic bottle recycling. To continue making a positive impact, put more items that can be recycled in your curbside recycling bin, or find a recycling center near you.

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