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 and is kept updated. 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 lastbeachcleanup@gmail.com   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?

Survey Results

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.

Item

Viable Market

Collection & Sortation at 75 CA MRFs

Processing Capacity

 Recyclable in CA?

VIABLE MARKET

Is the item worth collecting, sorting & processing into a new product?

Does the waste have sufficient value? 

COLLECTION & SORTATION

Is the item collected and sorted into single material bale by companies serving at least 75% of Californians?

PROCESSING  CAPACITY

Are there enough production facilities in California with equipment to recycle the plastic waste into new pro​ducts?

RECYCLABILITY CRITERIA

SUMMARY: PLASTIC ITEM RECYCLABILITY IN CALIFORNIA 

PET #1 Bottles

10-11 cents/lb

High: 100% Acceptance

High: 73% Processing

YES

 

HDPE #2 Bottles & Jugs

28-30 cents/lb Natural

5-7 cents/lb Color

High: 100% Acceptance

Moderate: 42% Processing

PET #1 Clamshells

Not Available

Low: 19% Acceptance

Negligible Processing

NO

 

#2-7 Plastic Bags

Negligible: 1 cents/lb

Very Low: 7% MRF Acceptance,

Takeback Bins for "Store Dropoff" No Longer Required in CA & Very Few Stores Have Bins

Negligible Processing

NO

PP #5 Tubs

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Moderate: 63% Acceptance as Part of Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Negligible Processing

NO

Polystyrene #6 Foam Food Service Packaging

Not Available

Very Low: 9% Acceptance

No Processing

NO

Plastic Cups

(typically PP#5 & PS#6) 

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Low: 13% Acceptance

Negligible Processing

NO

YES

Plastic Plates

(typically PP#5 & PS#6) 

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Very Low: 7% Acceptance

Negligible Processing

NO

Plastic Trays

(typically PP#5 & PS#6) 

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Low: 21% Acceptance

Negligible Processing

NO

Plastic Cutlery, Straws & Stirrers

(typically PP#5 & PS#6) 

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

Negligible: 4% Acceptance

No Processing

NO

Plastic Food & Mailing Pouches, Wraps, Films

(typically PE #2, #4 or PP#5) 

Negligible: 1 cents/lb

No MRF Acceptance,

Takeback Bins for "Store Dropoff" No Longer Required in CA & Very Few Stores Have Bins

No Processing

NO

Plastic Coffee Pods

(typically PP#5 & PS #6) 

Negative:

-2 to 1 cents/lb

Mixed Plastics #3-7 Bale

No Acceptance

No Processing

NO

Catalytic Initiatives to Move from Awareness of Plastic Pollution to Widespread Action and Achievement