Single-use plastics make up 11% of what Americans throw away, but only 3% of what we recycle. We could do better, but much of the plastic dropped in recycling bins isn’t being recycled. When the price of oil drops, it becomes far cheaper to make virgin plastic than to buy recycled plastic for manufacturing. Further, many plastic materials degrade each time they are processed and can only be recycled a few times. Without a profitable resale market, U.S. recycling companies landfill the material or sell it to other countries, primarily in Asia, where the waste is landfilled, incinerated, or escapes into waterways to fuel the ocean plastics crisis. Learn more about why plastic recycling is broken and what we can do to fix it.

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