Frequently Asked Questions: Plastics Recycling

  1. Is my plastic product recyclable?
    • Many different types of plastic products can technically be recycled. However, whether it is economically feasible to recycle a plastic item in your area will depend on the recycling infrastructure in your community.
    • In California, the most commonly recycled plastics are beverage containers that have a California Redemption Value, or CRV. CalRecycle oversees the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program, which has a statewide collection system for consumers to return cans and bottles.
    • There are limited opportunities for recycling plastic products if there is no collection program in place for those products. Companies such as Best Buy, and Epson have implemented take-back programs for some items such as ink cartridges and water jugs.
    • Unfortunately, recycling programs for other plastic items, including bags, polystyrene food containers, CD cases, and utensils, are more limited, and these plastics often end up in our landfills.
    • Global plastic markets also impact local recycling opportunities because virgin plastic prices and global recycling competitors affect the profitability of California recycling companies. For more on this topic, see the CalRecycle Plastics Market Information Resources site.
  2. How can I find out if my community offers recycling services?
    • First, check with your local jurisdiction to learn about recycling options in your area. Many cities and counties have detailed information on what is and is not recyclable locally. In areas that offer curbside pick-up, you can usually obtain a list of items that can be placed in the recycle bin, or you can get information about community recycling events. The Local Assistance and Market Development Contact Search site may be useful.
    • Next, check with the manufacturer of your plastic items. Some manufacturers’ websites will have information on how to best recycle their products.
    • If you are still having trouble, call 1-800-RECYCLE
  3. How much money can I get for recycling my plastic product?
    • Plastic beverage containers labeled with the CRV message can be returned to a certified recycling center for the current CRV rate.
    • Although non-CRV plastic packaging like milk jugs, margarine tubs, etc. can be recycled and turned into new products, these items are not redeemable for CRV. Therefore, it may be difficult to locate a recycler who will pay for these materials. Contact your local Recycling Coordinator for options in your area.
  4. Where can I recycle my plastic product?
    • Many plastic items can be recycled using your curbside recycling program (see question #2 above).
    • To find the nearest certified Beverage Container Recycling Program center, visit our Find a Recycling Center page.
    • If you would like further assistance locating possible recycling options, call 1-800-RECYCLE.
  5. What are some other plastic recycling resources?
  6. Are agricultural plastics (mulch film, drip tape, pesticide containers) recyclable?
    • Many of these agricultural plastics are recyclable. However, due to the high level of contamination (dirt, rocks, plant material, etc.), most of this material is not currently recycled. There are several recycling operations in the state (Revolution Plastics) that recycle various types of agricultural plastics.
    • Pesticide container recycling in California is under the purview of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

If you still have questions about plastic recycling, call us at 1-800-RECYCLE.

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