The Ultimate 9 Quick Tips to Recycle More Plastics

Two blue recycling bins

According to EPA, recycling can help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, prevent pollution, save energy, create jobs—and sustain the environment for future generations.

Recycling also makes economic sense. Recycling helps generate local revenue, support local recycling jobs, and enable us to continue to benefit from valuable resources.

Some tips to help you recycle more plastics:

ALL plastic bottles

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

Did you know? You’re doing a great job recycling these bottles. Americans recycled 2.9 billion pounds in 2016… nearly 30% of plastic bottles. Keep it up!
Young woman grocery shopping

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. (See below for a tip on learning which containers to recycle.)

Did you know? You’re also doing a great job recycling plastic containers—Americans recycled nearly 1.5 billion pounds in 2016, about 4.5 times the amount in 2007.

Smiling women eating healthy lifestyle yogurt food

Twist on the caps

Tip #3: Recyclers want your plastic bottle caps and container lids. Twist on the bottle caps before tossing them in the bin to make it easier for recyclers.

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.

Plastic bottle caps

To the store with bags and wraps

Tip #4: Did you know more than 18,000 grocery and retail stores collect plastic grocery bags for recycling? Plus bags for dry-cleaning, bread, produce, newspapers—and even zipper bags. And plastic wraps from products such as water bottles, diapers, napkins, and more. Just drop clean and dry bags/wraps in the storefront recycling bin.

Did you know? You’re recycling more plastic bags and wraps, too—Americans recycled about 1.3 billion pounds in 2016, more than double the amount in 2005.

Grocery items that contain plastic bags

Think beyond the kitchen

Tip #5: There probably are recyclable plastics in your bathroom (bottles and containers for shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body wash, mouthwash), laundry area (detergent and cleaning products), and garage (auto and gardening products). Placing small receptacles in various rooms can make it easier to recycle everything you can.

Did you know? There are LOTS of recyclables in your bathroom—check them out in the interactive Bathroom to Bin.
High-quality shampoo, conditioner, cream, detergent and soap in colorful bottles

Recycle on the go

Tip #6: Seek out public recycling bins at sports stadiums, public parks, and beaches. Can’t find one? Stash your recyclables in a plastic bag 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? Public recycling bins are proliferating—Keep America Beautiful is even creating a map of public bins!

Person recycling plastic bottle


Tip #7: Having a get-together? Instead of having guests guess 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? 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. Check out some tips to reduce waste.

Barbecuing - Old man and grand daughter preparing steak with family in the background

Seek recycled

Tip #8: Look for products made with recycled plastics to help this valuable material from going to waste. For example, long lasting decking can be made with plastic bags … food storage containers and kitchen tools can be made with yogurt cups … and patio furniture can be made with milk jugs. Even soft durable fabrics for stylish clothing can be made with used beverage bottles.

Did you know? It’s now easier than ever to find products made with recycled plastics—check out what happens to plastics collected for recycling.

Multi-colored plastic lawn chairs

 Arm yourself—with knowledge!

Tip #9: Most communities publish an online list of recyclables—check it out. Or visit Keep America Beautiful’s and enter your zip code. 

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.

Young woman grocery shopping