Plastic makers and recyclers have invested billions of dollars to help support a nationwide infrastructure to recycle plastic packaging, and we continue to develop new, innovative programs to collect additional plastic products. More and more communities across the nation are turning to recycling as an effective way to help the environment and to prevent litter.
Plastic Is Too Valuable To Waste: It Belongs in the Recycling Bin
Plastic bags and wrap recycling also increased significantly. In 2012, an estimated one billion pounds of plastic bags and product wraps were recycled. That’s a 56% increase since 2005.
For example, in 2012 the total pounds of plastic bottles recycled reached a record high 2.8 billion pounds in the United States. That’s an increase of 161 million pounds over 2011. During 2012, the collection of high-density polyethylene (HDPE, #2) bottles—a category that includes milk jugs and bottles for household cleaners and detergents—rose 45.3 million pounds to top one billion pounds for the first time, helping to boost the recycling rate for HDPE bottles from 29.9 to 31.6 percent.
In 2012, the recycling of rigid plastics excluding bottles rose to nearly 1.02 billion pounds, an increase of 10 percent over 2011 and triple the amount recycled in 2007 when the industry first began tracking rigid plastics recycling.
Today, more than 94 percent of U.S. households have access to a recycle plastic bottles—and 40 percent also can recycle other types of plastic containers, such as yogurt cups, dairy tubs and lids. Most large grocery stores—and many large retail chains—today offer bins to collect plastics bags and wraps for recycling. And there is a growing number of innovative plastic foodservice recycling programs across the country.