2020 California Consumer Plastic Recycling Survey
The purpose of the survey is to document and analyze credible data to enable Californians to make effective decisions to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling. The information was found in the public domain in July 2020. Traceable links to the sources of the data are provided. The information has been peer-reviewed by waste and recycling experts. Submission of new data and revisions to referenced data is welcomed. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org Surveys and data shown on full screen devices only.
Which Consumer Plastic Items are Recyclable in California?
Is the item worth collecting, sorting & processing into a new product? Does it have sufficient value?
Yes: Recyclable in CA
Survey: Acceptance of Plastic Item by California Municipal Material Recovery Facilities
Collection and sortation of plastic waste are the first steps in the recycling process. A comprehensive survey of California's Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) was performed and 75 Residential Single Stream MRFs were identified. These 75 MRFs accept the contents of curbside recycle bins and separate materials into bales for sales to Plastic Waste Processors who then recycle the plastic into new resin or products.
Survey: Plastic Waste Generation and Processing Capacity in California
An accurate estimation of the capacity of plastic waste processors in California is necessary to determine the state's ability to recycle the plastic waste that it generates. Collection and sortation of plastic waste are only the first steps in the recycling process. If facilities do not exist to process the collected plastic into recycled materials, then the plastic cannot be recycled into new products. Overseas export of California's plastic waste to other countries is not responsible management. (Read more about the harms of plastic waste exports here). Other U.S. states, Mexico and Canada have limited processing capacity and are struggling to recycle their own plastic waste. Trucking California's plastic waste long distances to other U.S. states, Mexico or Canada for processing is not consistent with the state's commitment to reduce carbon emissions and minimize the impacts of climate change.
Survey: 2020 Plastic Waste Processing Capacity in California
***Note: The actual amount of plastic waste processed may be less than the Facility Capacity if there is a lack of buyers/orders for recycled plastic or if excessive contamination impacts process efficiency.
California's Exports of Plastic Waste
California exports more plastic waste to other countries than any other state. As described on our exports webpage, the social and environmental harms caused by plastic waste exports are clear. Non-OECD Countries are countries that lack adequate waste management infrastructure, environmental regulations and wage, age and other worker protections. California is currently exporting 8.6 million kg of plastic waste to Non-OECD Countries. Starting on 1/1/2021, these plastic waste exports will be restricted under the Basel Plastics Agreement and must stop. California and other states must take responsibility for their own plastic waste.