2022 U.S. Post-Consumer Plastic Recycling Survey

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October 24, 2022: Greenpeace USA released a 2022 update to the 2020 comprehensive survey of the nation’s 375 material recovery facilities (MRFs) today, confirming again that only PET #1 and HDPE #2 plastic bottles and jugs may legitimately be labeled in the U.S. as recyclable by consumer goods companies and retailers. The survey found that common plastic pollution items, including plastic tubs, cups, lids, plates, and trays may not be labeled as recyclable according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Green Guide requirements for products and labeling.  

Accurate recyclable claims and labels serve three valuable functions: truthful advertising to consumers, prevention of harmful contamination in America’s recycling system, and identification of products for elimination or redesign to reduce plastic waste and pollution.

Key results of the survey include:

1. Toxicity and economics are fatal flaws in plastics recycling.

2. As predicted in 2020 report, the plastics recycling rate in the U.S. has declined from 8.7% in 2018 to about 5% in 2021. 

3. Only some types of PET #1 and HDPE #2 plastic bottles and jugs can be legitimately labeled as recyclable in the U.S. in 2022, as was the case in 2020. No type of plastic packaging meets the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's (EMF) definition of a recyclable product.
 

4. Common plastic pollution items, including single use plastic food service and convenience products, cannot be legitimately claimed as recyclable in the U.S. See our Fast Food Plastic Survey.
 

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2022 U.S. MRF Survey - Transparent Account of Plastic Item Acceptance at U.S. Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)

An objective survey of acceptance of plastic items in curbside collection for sorting at the U.S. Residential Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) was initially performed in October 2019. The Last Beach Cleanup continually updates the survey. In August 2022, a total of 375 operating facilities were identified in the U.S. The acceptance information was found in the public domain and is publicly shared here to promote transparency and establish a traceable account of facts related to plastic “recyclable” claims and labels. The survey approach is described in detail in the report. Links to information are provided in the spreadsheet.

Use of the Survey: The 2022 U.S. MRF Survey results may be quoted with attribution to Greenpeace. The information in the survey spreadsheet may be quoted with attribution to the original source of the information (provided by links in the spreadsheet). The spreadsheet itself is the intellectual property of The Last Beach Cleanup and may not be reproduced without express written consent.

 

Survey Updates: Submissions by MRFs and local governments are welcomed to update or correct the information found and presented. Links to publicly available information are required to revise the traceable account. Since external links may change at any time, we request notification of a broken link. Please send updates with links to lastbeachcleanup@gmail.com

2022 U.S. MRF Survey Spreadsheet

Report Version: Spreadsheet Last Updated: August 15, 2022