New study finds greater access to plastics recycling programs

CaptureGood news on the recycling front: a new study found that more than 60 percent of the U.S. population has access to recycling programs for a wide range of plastics.

The study, “2015-16 Centralized Study on Availability of Plastics Recycling,” conducted by Resource Recycling Systems and Moore Recycling Associates Inc., looked at access to programs that recycle specific categories of everyday plastic packaging, like bottles, caps, cups, tubs and containers. Within those categories, the study differentiated recycling by resin type.

When it comes to plastic bottles, the study found that 92 percent of consumers can recycle HDPE bottles, like milk jugs; 78-81 percent can recycle PVC, LDPE, LLDPE, and PP bottles; and 76 percent can recycle bottle caps. For plastic tubs, containers and cups, 70 percent of consumers can recycle PP tubs and containers; 69 percent can recycle LDPE and LLDPE tubs; 61 percent can recycle PP cups; and 60 percent can recycle PS containers.

This study was part of the overarching “2015-16 Centralized Study on Availability of Recycling,” which was commissioned by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. This larger study looked at 49 different types of packaging and marks the first time that twelve packaging groups – including ACC’s Plastics Division – coalesced around a single methodology to measure recycling availability in the U.S.

The 60 percent figure is more than just good news about an increase in access to plastics recycling. The report is also significant because it provides data relevant to green marketing claims. Generally, the Federal Trade Commission requires that for an item to be marketed as “recyclable” without qualification, a substantial majority (at least 60 percent) of the consumers where the item is sold must have established recycling systems available.

Marketing a product as recyclable helps remind consumers that much plastic packaging is recyclable. And with increased access to plastics recycling, the easier it can be for consumers to recycle. And the more consumers recycle, the more recycling rates will continue to grow.

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