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10% Plastics Recycled? - Yes Sad, But It's Just Math

Updated: Apr 13

It's been getting headlines lately. The fact that only 10% of all plastics produced annually get recycled. And sadly - it's true. When we started this journey into the world of recycling we thought that there must be some terrible problem with the system. That we would carefully put our plastics in our bin and some evil force would send them off to landfills or into our oceans instead.


Good news - there is no evil force. Bad news - there is some pretty simple math that means yes, only 10% of plastics get recycled - but back to good news. We can fix it.


Here's the math. For every 100 recyclable plastic things, only about 50% of our households have access to curbside pick up. You are far less likely to recycle if it is not convenient for you. Small towns, apartment buildings and businesses all have to either pay for collection separately or take their stuff to a drop off location.


Then - there is the role of incentives. In states (there are 10 of them) that have bottle deposits, plastic gets recycled at about 60%. In states that there are no deposits, the rate is more like 20%.


So - of those 100 bottles, only half get put in a curbside bin and of that 50%, only 20% (if they don't have a deposit) get recycled. That makes 10%. It's math.


Easy fix then. More curbside programs and more states with incentives right? We 100% agree and are working to make both of those things come true. All states with plastic recovery incentives and healthier, more profitable curbside programs so that we can expand them to more homes.


Let's make the math work in our favor - for our planet and for the generations that follow us.


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