Chances are, you’ve found yourself standing in front of a recycling bin thinking: “I’m confused.” You’re not alone. According to a 2020 survey, 80% of people reported they would recycle plastic more frequently if they had more guidance. And 60% say they don’t know how to recycle some plastic packaging.
In other words, education is the key to success. But did you know that what you can recycle in your community may be different from what your distant friends and families can recycle? That’s because recycling programs, systems and rules can vary greatly from city to city.
To answer your recycling questions for where you live, here are some helpful resources:
- Get the Basics: Berecycled.org provides a great overview of what can and what can’t be recycled in curbside bins, broken down by material. Enter your ZIP code to find local information and tips relevant to you.
- Labels 101: To help you understand how to recycle plastics correctly, many big brands and retailers are adding the How2Recycle label on packaging. Just follow the directions.
- Take Your Plastic Bags on Your Next Errand Run: Plastic grocery bags, produce bags, sandwich bags—even shipping pillows and those bubble wrap envelopes—and some other flexible plastics are not welcome in most curbside collection programs (because they get caught in sorting equipment at recycling facilities). But thousands of grocery stores and retailers like Target, Walmart and Lowe’s collect these plastic bags and wraps for recycling. Find a drop-off location near you that will take them off your hands the next time you’re out shopping.
- Where to Recycle Polystyrene: Foam (polystyrene) plastic is often used in food packaging and takeout containers. Did you know it’s recyclable in certain areas? Check out this interactive map to find where to recycle polystyrene near you in the United States and Canada.
Beyond these avenues for recycling, there are other ways you can contribute to a circular economy for plastics. For example:
- Recycling Is Beautiful: If you’re interested in pursuing a more eco-conscious beauty routine, so you can look great and do good at the same time, Nordstrom has you covered through its BEAUTYCYCLE program. The retailer, in partnership with TerraCycle, has launched a national recycling program for all brands of beauty and skin-care product packaging. You can now bring in your empty beauty packaging to be recycled at any of Nordstrom’s full-line stores or Nordstrom Local service hubs in the continental U.S.
- Recycling on Aisle 4: The Simple Truth Recycling Program at Kroger allows you to recycle flexible packaging from more than 300 products from their Simple Truth line. The initiative collects and recycles a range of flexible packaging not currently allowed in curbside recycling bins. Check out this link for more information and learn how you can participate.
Many other companies have recycling programs for their brands. Check company websites for specifics. By learning how you can recycle in your town or city, or by participating in retail recycling programs, you’re helping create a circular economy for plastics.
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Check out other articles like Overcoming “Bin-decision” to learn more about how communities and companies are recycling and using recycled plastic.