How Many Plastic Bottles Are Recycled? (Plus Other Facts)

how many plastic bottles are recycled

The average American uses more than 250 pounds of plastic waste every year. Most of this waste comes from packaging. A lot of this waste ends up in landfills or in our streets where they go on to cause pollution for hundreds of years to come.

Using plastics is inevitable. But the pollution plastic causes is putting the entire planet in danger.

So what’s the middle ground?


Throwing your plastics in the recycling bin is part of the plastic pollution solution. Unfortunately, as recycling plastic facts indicate, many of us are confused about what we should be putting in the recycling bin. What’s recyclable in one community could be trash in another.

Facts About Recycling Plastic

To learn more about recycling plastic, let’s take a look at recycling plastic facts that can guide us on how to recycle better.

1. 35 billion plastic bottles thrown out in America annually

Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour. That’s the equivalent of about 35 billion plastic bottles trashed every year.

2. Too much plastic is thrown away each year

The amount of plastic thrown away each year can circle the earth four times.

3. How many plastic bottles are recycled?

When it comes to how many plastic bottles are recycled each year, only 23% of disposable plastic bottles are recycled.

4. Recycling takes less energy than creating a new bottle

To recycle a plastic bottle, you need 88% less energy than making it from raw materials.

5. Coffee cups cannot be recycled

Did you know that coffee cups are not recyclable? While the outside of the coffee cup is made of paper, inside is a thin layer of plastic PP (Polypropylene). To recycle the cup you have to separate the paper and the plastic, which is impossible to do by hand and requires a special machine.

6. You can’t recycle dirty plastic

You cannot recycle any plastic material that contains food residues on it. So clean your takeaway utensils next time before throwing them in the recycle bin.

7. One ton of recycled plastic save a lot of resources

One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 kWh of electricity, 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline, 685 gallons of oil, 98 million Btu’s of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space.

8. More energy used to burn plastic

Burning plastics in an incinerator takes twice as much energy as recycling it.

9. Recycle plastic and save energy for your household

Recycling one ton of plastic bottles can save the equivalent energy used by a two-person household for one year.

10. Recycling is in crisis in the U.S.

Public confusion is causing a recycling crisis in the U.S. U.S. recycling levels are currently at 21.4%. With the proper information, recycling levels could reach 75%.

11. Manufacturers want to recycle plastics

Manufacturers are truly interested in reusing their plastic material but can’t do so because people don’t recycle right.

12. Use reusable bottles and reduce plastic water bottles waste

If you use a reusable water bottle you can eliminate the need for 100 disposable bottles per year all by yourself.

13. Recycling plastic downgrades its quality

You can only recycle the same piece of plastic about 2-3 times before its quality decreases to the point where it can no longer be used.

14. Plastic can be recycled into many things

Plastic water bottles can be recycled into new bottles, home insulation materials, bin liners, carrier bags, duvet fillings, various items of clothing, DVD and video game cases, compost bins, park benches, and much more.

15. Recycling creates more jobs

Recycling creates 6 times more jobs than land-filling and 36 times more than incinerating.

16. More people willing to recycle

90% of people say they would recycle more if it were made easier.

More Recycling Facts & Statistics

Want to learn more facts about how much plastic is recycled as well as how much plastic is produced each year? Here are more recycling plastic facts.

How Many Plastic Bottles Are Recycled?

Only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled.

Can Most Plastic Be Recycled?

In America, most types of plastic are not recyclable. Only plastic bottles are regularly recycled.

How Are Plastics Recycled?

Recycling plastics involves two stages:

  1. Sorting is done automatically with a manual sort to remove all contaminants.
  2. The plastic is then either shredded into flakes or melt processed to form pellets before finally being molded into new products.


Surprised by some of these recycling plastic facts? You’re not alone.

The key takeaway here is that plastic recycling is expanding and growing due to our combined efforts. And in doing so, we continue to protect the environment. Therefore, continue doing your part and recycle those plastics!