HomePET Knowledge BaseThe Latest Discoveries Indicate That Only 28% of Pet Bottles Undergo Recycling in The United States.

The Latest Discoveries Indicate That Only 28% of Pet Bottles Undergo Recycling in The United States.

January 10, a non-profit on a mission to revamp recycling, unveiling a report on the US recycling scene.

January 10, a non-profit on a mission to revamp recycling, unveiling a report on the US recycling scene. Their report, titled “State of Recycling: Present and Future of Residential Recycling in the U.S.,” rings the alarm – all types of household recyclables, PET bottles included, are falling short on the recycling front.


Diving into the data, the report spotlights the critical gaps and identifies the key areas where policy, investment, and action can make a significant difference. It's not just a theory; the report is backed by years of field studies conducted across the US and insights from The Recycling Partnership’s National Database. The methodology used is cutting-edge, tracking materials from start to finish in the recycling system.


Zooming in on PET bottles, known for their efficient recycling, the report uncovers a stark reality – seven out of ten PET bottles still miss the recycling boat. The reasons behind this shortfall are diverse and numerous.


This revelation emphasizes the urgency of addressing the recycling crisis comprehensively, from policy to action. The upcoming segments will delve into the specifics, shedding light on where the gaps in recycling access, engagement, and processing lie, and how bridging these gaps can turn the tide on the under-recycling epidemic. Stay tuned for more insights into the state of recycling and the path toward a sustainable solution.


Access to Recyclables


Let's talk about getting your recyclables where they belong – in the recycling bin. Unfortunately, not every household is on board. In fact, only 73% have access to recycling. The stats play favorites among the states; Delaware leads the way with a whopping 97% accessibility, while Mississippi lags behind at a mere 37%. 


But, even if you're one of the lucky ones with access, it's not all smooth sailing. Some places pick and choose what they collect, limiting the kinds of recyclables they take. It's like having a ticket to the party but not being able to dance to all the tunes. So, let's break it down – we need more households on the recycling train, and we need everyone, no matter where they are, to have a full range of recyclables accepted. It's time to level the playing field for recycling across the map. Stay tuned for more insights into the recycling puzzle.


Getting Communities Involved in Recycling


Let's dive into the next chapter of the recycling saga – engagement and what happens after your recyclables leave home. 


Assuming households have access to recycling and their community is on board with a wide range of recyclables, the ball is in their court. But to win this game, we need communication, education, and support. Think of it as the three pillars of successful recycling.


Now, focusing on PET bottles – the rockstars of recyclable plastics. Surprisingly, even in homes with access to recycling containers, a whopping 45% of PET bottles end up in the trash. That's a missed encore for these recyclable heroes. 


Sorting and Processing


Once these bottles leave our homes, they embark on a journey to recycling facilities. Here, technology and infrastructure play a crucial role. Currently, 85% of captured PET bottles get processed by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF), sorting and processing 87% of the recyclables they receive. The dream? A long-term processing rate of 95%.




Summing up the recycling rollercoaster – considering access, engagement, and processing, only 28% of PET bottles get recycled in the US. Out of 3,412,310 tonnes of PET bottles generated, only 971,215 tonnes find a new purpose. A staggering 2,441,095 tonnes are lost, whether in our homes or at the MRFs.


This underscores the need to tackle recycling from all angles – ensuring nationwide recycling facilities, boosting public awareness, and giving MRFs the support they need to supercharge their processing game. It's a team effort to turn the tide on recycling's challenges. Stay tuned for more insights into the recycling journey.

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