Recycling Packaging Materials


Plastic packaging is valuable and should be recycled where possible. Recycling as many packaging materials as we can further enhances its sustainability. More and more everyday plastics are recycled– including bottles, caps, rigid containers, bags and film product wraps. So how much plastic is recycled? ACC tracks this information annually for three categories of plastics.

Plastic Bottles

A recent national study found that more than 90% of Americans can recycle plastic bottles in their communities. In the U.S. in 2016, over 2.9 billion pounds of plastic bottles (for beverages, household cleaners, detergents, etc.) were recycled. Today, nearly 30% of plastic bottles are recycled.


Other Rigid Plastics

Recycling of non-bottle plastic containers (dairy tubs, deli containers, lids, etc.) reached nearly 1.5 billion pounds in 2016. This is about four and a half times the amount recycled in 2007. A recent study found that  more than 60% of Americans now can recycle  these rigid containers- so product labels can identify these containers as “recyclable,” which is expected to help further increase recycling rates.

Bags & Film Product Wraps

Plastic film wrap recycling grew to more than 1.3 billion pounds in 2016, up 10% from 2015. This category of plastic recycling includes plastic bags from retails and grocery stores, newspaper bags, and dry cleaning bags. As well as plus plastic film wraps from bread, diapers, bathroom tissue, paper towels, beverage cases, and more. Today there are nearly 18,000 locations across the country where consumers can drop off plastic bags and wraps for recycling, typically in specially marked ins in front of large grocery and retail chains.


What about those numbers and arrows on the bottom of plastic packaging? Plastics Make It Possible® has some great content you can share with your customers and others to help everyone recycle more plastic packaging. And more great resources you can share to help your audiences dig deeper to learn about recycling rates and what happens to recycled plastics.