Promoting Recycling to the Community

June 8, 2023

Plastic recycling in the US needs a boost as it has one of the lowest recycling rates among developed nations. One reason that would explain this occurrence is the lack of knowledge on what plastics are recyclable and which ones are not. If the stream contains any items that aren’t recyclable, then it becomes contaminated, and nothing can be recycled, which is why it is key to know what can and cannot be recycled. This is why knowing what can and cannot be widely recycled is important. In this article, we will be discussing what kinds of plastic can be recycled, and what can be done to make recycling more effective in the US. 

Education is an important part of the recycling process as knowing what can and cannot be recycled plays a role in the effectiveness of recycling and is the first step to work towards increasing recycling rates. With all the different kinds of plastic, it can be hard to know which ones can be recycled and which ones can’t, especially since different cities and municipalities have different rules as to what can be recycled. Though there are different rules based on where you live, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are widely recyclable, so more often than not they can go in the recycling bin. Other plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polystyrene (PS), cannot be recycled as easily, so they need to be taken to a specific facility or thrown away. Whether or not they can be recycled through curbside, a specific facility, or not at all depends on the location. 

Now that we know what plastics are often recycled and which ones are not, the next step is to know what types of plastic are picked up through curbside recycling. This is where things can get confusing as the rules depend on the location and what they can process. To see what you can recycle in your community, use Check Locally – How2Recycle. This website allows you to put your zip code in a search engine to see what you can put in your recycling bin [1]. They also provide information for other recyclable materials, not just plastic [1]. How2Recycle is a great resource to ensure that what you are putting into the recycling is recycled and decreases the probability of the stream becoming contaminated. Communicating this information and making it widely accessible is also essential to reach more people within the community [2]. This is achievable in many ways, such as social media, posters, newspaper ads, or a website [2]. Setting goals is another way to promote recycling across the community by tying it to how recycling can benefit the residents and businesses can benefit from recycling [2].

Another method that could work to increase recycling would be to pre-sort the recyclables before they even get picked up. This is what happens in Germany, a country that has seen a great increase in their recycling by having separate bins for the recyclables [3]. This leads to a decrease in the potential for contamination and ruining batches of recycling thus increasing the effectiveness of recycling. This method would take more work from citizens but would overall increase the effectiveness of recycling. 

Overall, it is important to try to increase recycling throughout the country, and education and communication are essential to increasing recycling rates. Changing our recycling system may be another option to increase recycling since it has worked in other countries. Through increasing the information available to people, it would not be shocking to see an increase in recycling rates.

[1] Check Locally – How2Recycle

[2] 14 Ways to Improve Community Recycling Rates (

[3] Germany: A Recycling Program That Actually Works – Earth911

Placon : 7 Types of Plastic

For 55 years, Placon has been a leading designer and manufacturer of custom and stock plastic packaging for the food, medical, and retail markets. Placon has manufacturing operations in Madison, WI; Elkhart, IN; Plymouth, MN; and West Springfield, MA, and currently ranked in Plastics News 2020 Thermoformers Ranking Top 20. Placon delivers packaging breakthroughs that inspire better engagement between people and products with industry leading innovation and award-winning packaging designs. For more information, visit