A study released May 31 by Moore Recycling Associates Inc. found that a much larger portion of the U.S. population has ready access to recycle commonly used plastics than previously believed.

"Plastics Recycling Collection: National Reach Study," found that 94% of Americans have access to recycle plastic bottles and 40% of the population also can recycle other types of plastic containers, such as yogurt cups, dairy tubs and lids.

Although the study surveyed nearly 2,500 communities across the United States, it found that within the 100 largest cities, the percentage of the population with access to recycle plastic containers in addition to bottles has nearly doubled since 2008.

The study did not look at recycling film plastics, but it is well documented that these materials are collected separately at more than 12,000 locations across the country.  

"We are thrilled that so many consumers have access to plastics recycling in their communities," says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. "The next step is to increase awareness, so that more people take advantage of this opportunity to do something good for our environment and for the businesses that depend on this valuable material."

Recycled plastics can be made into a variety of products, including soft T-shirts, durable backyard decks, storage containers, car parts, decorative moldings and other home building products.

Shape favored over numbers


The study noted that it is more effective to communicate which plastics are recycled in various communities by listing shapes (e.g., bottles, tubs, trays, lids, etc.) than by listing resin codes (Society of the Plastics Industry numbers 1-7), which can be confusing.

ACC sponsored this study as part of a cooperative effort with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of the nonprofit GreenBlue, which is working to launch a new voluntary labeling system for the recycling of packaging in June.  This initiative is designed to help consumers better understand how to recycle various packaging components and to provide a harmonized approach to consumer communication on recycling.

For more information, visit http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/recycling.