Is Plastics Recycling Dead? Not at NRRA

Did you know that NRRA helped its members recycle 2,206,857 pounds of plastics in 2019?  According to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, those recycled plastics had the environmental impact of conserving 1,655,145 gallons of gasoline!  To learn more about the other materials NRRA members have recycled and their environmental impact, check out our most recent Annual Report.  

NRRA members and their residents are increasingly hearing negative news about plastic recycling, including a recent NPR story "How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled."  While there are some challenges and limitations with plastics recycling, NRRA enables its members to responsibly recycle many plastics.  

For example, NRRA offers a #1-7 baled plastics program for our members, which accounted for 25% of all plastics marketed for NRRA members in 2019.  NRRA’s Vendor, Trigon Plastics in Newmanstown, PA, processes 90% of the #1-7 plastics on the East Coast, making Trigon the largest buyer of #1-7 plastics in US.  NRRA staff had extensive conversations with staff at Trigon Plastics to ensure NRRA could provide its members with transparent and accurate information regarding how those plastics are recycled.  Here's what we found happens with the plastics once they are sorted at the plant: 

• #1 PET (water bottles) is sold to manufacturers of carpet and clothing.

• #2 HDPE Natural (translucent milk jugs) is pelletized and made into plastic lumber at Trigon and sold to Casual Living to be made into high end plastic Breezesta furniture.

• #2 HDPE Mixed Color (laundry detergent bottles) is made into black drainage pipes, garbage container wheels, etc.

• #3-7 (which are mainly #5s and 7s) go to companies in Canada where they capture the #5 polypropylene and some of the 7s.

Learn more about NRRA's work with Trigon Plastics.  NRRA also partners with other vendors that accept #1 and #2 plastics, both of which have robust recycling markets.  Have questions about plastics recycling at NRRA?  Contact us at info@nrrarecycles.org.