9 Simple Plastic Recycling Tips

Because every day is Global Recycling Day. (Well… Sort of)

We all want to recycle more plastic. And not only on Global Recycles Day (March 18). 

According to EPA, recycling can help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, save energy and create jobs. All good. 

But sometimes plastic recycling can be confusing. So, here are some tips to help you recycle more plastic. 

Ultimate Tip: All recycling is local. Check first with your local recycling agency. 


WANTED: Plastic bottles 

Tip #1: That’s right: Nearly every single plastic bottle – meaning a container with a neck smaller than its body – goes in the recycling bin. 

Did you know? We’re doing a pretty good job recycling these bottles. Americans recycled 2.8 billion pounds in 2019… more than 28% of plastic bottles.  

And MOST plastic containers 

Tip #2: More and more communities collect plastic containers for products such as yogurt, sour cream and condiments, plus “clamshell” packaging. Check with your local recycler to see what goes in your bin… and what doesn’t!

Did you know? These containers can live another life as things like new containers, durable kitchen utensils, creative toys, colorful home décor, playground equipment, and even tough car parts.

Twist on the caps

Tip #3: Recyclers want your plastic bottle caps. Just empty the bottles and twist on the bottle caps before tossing them in the bin to make it easier for recyclers. And you DON’T need to flatten your plastic bottles.

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. Cool stat: Lead batteries (like those in our cars) are made with polypropylene – and they’re the most recycled consumer product in the country!

To the store with bags and wraps

Tip #4: Did you know thousands of grocery and retail stores across the nation collect plastic grocery bags for recycling? Plus, bags for dry-cleaning, bread, produce, newspapers – and even zipper bags and shipping pillows. And plastic wraps from around products such as water bottles, diapers, napkins, bathroom tissue and more. Just drop clean and dry bags/wraps in the participating store’s recycling bin labelled for plastic bag recycling. 

Did you know? Plastic bags and wraps often go on to become durable, low maintenance lumber for your backyard deck or fence. One of the largest recyclers of plastic bags/wraps is Trex – a 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags!

Think beyond the kitchen

Tip #5: There very likely is recyclable plastic in your: bathroom (bottles, containers, and caps for shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body wash, mouthwash) … laundry area (detergent and cleaning products) … garage (auto and gardening products).

Placing small recycling receptacles in various rooms can make it easier to recycle even more.

Did you know? Next up in your bathroom: recycled plastic packaging! Check out this major company’s commitment to using recycled plastic, announced on America Recycles Day.

Recycle on the go

Tip #6: Seek out public recycling bins at public parks, sports stadiums and beaches. Can’t find a bin? Collect your recyclables 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? Check out how plastic maker Braskem helps the Philadelphia pro football team recycle bottle caps, plastic film, foodservice trays – even stadium seats!


Tip #7: Having a get-together? Instead of your guests guessing 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? Really 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! (Probably a bit more than your get-together….)

Seek recycled

Tip #8: Look for products made with recycled plastic to help save this valuable material from going to waste. For example,

  • long lasting decking can be made with plastic bags …
  • food storage containers and kitchen tools made with yogurt cups …
  • playground equipment made with shampoo bottles …
  • food wrappers made from mixed plastics …
  • durable luggage made from takeout containers …
  • eyeglass frames made from used demo lenses.

Even soft durable fabrics for comfy clothing can be made with used plastic beverage bottles.

Did you know? It’s now easier than ever to find products made with recycled plastic – check out what happens to some of the plastic collected for recycling.

Arm yourself – with knowledge!

Tip #9: As mentioned above, most communities publish a list of recyclable plastic and other materials – start with a quick online search. And visit Keep America Beautiful’s berecycled.org and enter your zip code for more info on recycling in your community.

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.