Pros & Cons Of Recycling Plastic

Pros & Cons Of Recycling Plastic

Perhaps contrary to what you’ve been told, the reality of recycling plastic it that it has many of it’s own problems to consider.

In this guide, we’ve listed some of the main pros and cons of recycling plastic to shed some light on this disposal option.


Summary – Pros & Cons Of Recycling Plastic

  • Recycling plastic is one of only a number of potential solutions for addressing plastic related problems and addressing waste management issues into the future.
  • It’s certainly not the only solution or the key solution for all the different types of plastic and plastic products that become waste
  • There’s certainly some pros to recycling plastic – such as creating jobs, there being good demand in some locations, and the fact that there’s potential ways to improve plastic recycling … just as a few examples
  • But, the reality is that most of the plastic we produce and use does not get recycled at this point in time. There’s many reasons for this.
  • Based on current systems and the economics of recycling, only a select few types of plastic and plastic products are feasible to recycle. Even these plastic types and plastic products have low recycling rates
  • Plastic in general also can’t be recycled infinitely like some metals for example, so, there’s an argument to be made that recycling plastic can only delay it ending up getting recycled or incinerated anyway
  • A bigger and more multi layered approach is needed than just recycling if we want to address plastic waste issues seriously
  • One of the key things we can do in the future to address plastic related issues is to reduce the amount of short or single use plastic packaging that we use that is non recyclable. 
  • Reducing certain types of problem plastic, redesigning plastic and plastic products for better rates of recycling and re-use, and finding ways to reduce overall waste might be part of the bigger picture strategy


Pros Of Recycling Plastic

  • Plastic has a number of ways to be repurposed via recyclingdifferent plastics can be repurposed for different applications, such as textiles, insulation, chairs and benches, and so on
  • Recycling plastic is more eco friendly in some ways than other waste management options – [although it can depend on local context, recycling plastic, according to a range of studies, has] the lowest global warming potential and energy use compared to landfill and incineration (
  • There’s still more potential to better recycle plastic by changing the design of plastic products and their packaging – some plastic products either can’t be recycled or face big challenges in being recycled because of their design or the design of their plastic packaging. Plastic packaging and plastic design guidelines, like those from, offer manufacturers and businesses ways to make their products more recyclable via better design
  • There’s still more potential to better recycle plastic with new breakthroughs in the types of plastic being produced – regular plastics usually either can’t be recycled, or can only be recycled a certain number of times. Newer plastics that can be recycled many times over are in development. One example of this type of plastic is PDK plastic ( 
  • There’s still more potential to better recycle plastic with continual advances and improvements in recycling facilities and their technology – the technology used in recycling facilities, and the capabilities of these recycling facilities, differs from city to city globally. Recycling technology and facilities can continually be improved and upgraded to make recycling a better option in the future.
  • Some simple and common types of plastic products can be profitable and economic to recycledcompared to other plastic types and plastic products, PET bottles can be simple and profitable to recycle in some markets
  • Recycling tends to create more jobs than landfill and other options in some economiesin some cities, recycling can create up to 20 more jobs than landfill (but this is for all waste – the figures for plastic alone are not known at this stage) 
  • There’s good demand for certain types of plastic and plastic product in the US – as evidenced by recyclers in South Carolina and Alabama (
  • There’s growing markets for certain plastics and plastic products or items in some countries – like for example caps and lids in the US ( Additionally, innovators may come up with ideas for new opportunities in the market in the future to recycle more plastic.
  • Some sources indicate recycling plastic saves resources – When we use recycled plastics to make new plastic products, we conserve more than materials. We can reduce energy usage by 66%. Plus, for every one ton of plastic we recycle, we save the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline (
  • Some sources indicate curbside recycling programs can be cheaper than general waste programs – properly managed curbside recycling programs can cost anywhere from $50 to $150+ per ton. Trash collection and disposal programs can cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 per ton (


Cons Of Recycling Plastic


Other Resources On Recycling & Other Waste Management Options

These general guides on waste management may be of some further interest for you to read:






















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