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.

Recycling Plastic Bottles

Recycling Plastic Bottles

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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.


Recycling Plastic Lids and Rigid Plastics

Recycling Other Rigid Plastics

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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.


Reycling PLastic Film

Recycling Plastic Bags & Film Product Wraps

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Plastic film wrap recycling grew to more than 1.3 billion pounds in 2016, up 10% from 2015. This category of plastic recycling primarily includes plastic bags from retails and grocery stores, newspaper bags, and dry cleaning bags. The category also includes 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 bins 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 excellent content you can share with your customers and others to help everyone recycle more plastic packaging. The site also offers great resources you can share to help your audiences dig even deeper to learn about recycling rates and what happens to recycled plastics.