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Give the gift that keeps on giving: 9 tips to help you recycle more plastics

acc_coverRecycling really can be the gift that keeps on giving.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling can help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, prevent pollution, save energy, create jobs—and sustain the environment for future generations.

As people around the world prepare to make good on their plans to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season, it’s important to remember which plastic products can and should be recycled (hint: it’s more than you might think).

With these tips in mind, don’t forget to put your holiday green or blue recycling bins in plain view in the coming weeks where all your guests can see them!

The Ultimate 9 Quick Tips to Help You Recycle More Plastics

1. ALL plastic bottles

Tip: That’s right: every single plastic bottle—meaning a container with a neck smaller than its body—goes in the recycling bin.

Did you know? You once again broke the record—Americans recycled more pounds of plastic bottles in 2014 than ever and reached a recycling rate of nearly 32%. Keep it up!

2. And MOST plastic containers

Tip: More and more communities collect plastic containers for products such as yogurt, sour cream, and condiments, plus “clamshell” packaging. (See below for a tip on learning which containers to recycle.)

Did you know? You’re also doing a great job recycling plastic containers—Americans recycled more than a billion pounds in 2013, triple the amount since 2007.

3. Twist on the caps

Tip: Recyclers want your plastic bottle caps and container lids. Twist on the bottle caps before tossing them in the bin to make it easier for recyclers.

Did you know? Bottle caps typically are made from polypropylene plastic—it can be recycled into auto parts, bike racks, storage bins, shipping pallets, and more.

4. To the store with bags and wraps

Tip: Did you know more than 18,000 grocery and retail stores collect plastic grocery bags for recycling? Plus bags for dry-cleaning, bread, produce, newspapers—and even zipper bags. And plastic wraps from products such as water bottles, diapers, napkins, and more. Just drop clean and dry bags/wraps in the storefront recycling bin.

Did you know? You’re recycling more plastic bags and wraps, too—Americans recycled more than a billion pounds in 2013, an increase of 75% since 2005.

5. Think beyond the kitchen

Tip: There probably are recyclable plastics in your bathroom (bottles and containers for shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body wash, mouthwash), laundry area (detergent and cleaning products), and garage (auto and gardening products). Placing small receptacles in various rooms can make it easier to recycle everything you can.

Did you know? There are LOTS of recyclables in your bathroom—check them out in the interactive Bathroom to Bin.

6. Recycle on the go

Tip: Seek out public recycling bins at sports stadiums, public parks, and beaches. Can’t find one? Stash your recyclables in a plastic bag and bring them back to your home bin. This will not only increase recycling, but it can help cut down on litter, too.

Did you know? Public recycling bins are proliferating—Keep America Beautiful is even creating a map of public bins!

7. Party!

Tip: Having a get-together? Instead of having guests guess what to recycle, set up a separate bin with a sign of all the recyclables you can collect, and ask them to pitch in!

Did you know? Big get-togethers such as tailgate parties can create a lot of waste—the EPA says some large college stadiums can generate 100 tons of waste per game. Check out some tips to reduce waste.

8. Seek recycled

Tip: Look for products made with recycled plastics to help this valuable material from going to waste. For example, long lasting decking can be made with plastic bags … food storage containers and kitchen tools can be made with yogurt cups … and patio furniture can be made with milk jugs. Even soft durable fabrics for stylish clothing can be made with used beverage bottles.

Did you know? It’s now easier than ever to find products made with recycled plastics—check out what happens to plastics collected for recycling.

9. Arm yourself—with knowledge!

Tip: Most communities publish an online list of recyclables—check it out. Or visit KAB’s and enter your zip code. 

Did you know? America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day devoted to encouraging Americans to recycle—it’s sponsored by Keep America Beautiful.

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