Canadian Packaging

Four surprising facts about plastics recycling

By Darlene Gray, Canadian Plastics Industry Association   

Sustainability Canadian Plastics Industry Association CPIA plastic recycling

Canadian Plastics Industry Association's Darlene Gray provides a brief discussion about the recycling of plastics.

Sure, you know that you can recycle a lot of your plastics. But as technology advances, plastics recycling is evolving, so it can be tricky keeping up with the progress … even for the avid recycler.

Here are four things about plastics recycling you may not know:

  • Recyclers want your caps and lids: Don’t throw your soft drink bottle caps in the trashcan. Or your margarine tub lids, either. They’re not trash! Bottle caps and container lids are made with valuable plastics, and recyclers want them too. Check with your municipality or local recycling program for their guidelines around caps and lids – many encourage you to simply put caps and lids back on bottles and containers and toss them in the recycling bin together, while others may ask that the caps and lids are included separately. Recyclers typically shred them all into flakes and then submerge the flakes in water. Bottle flakes sink and the other flakes float, making it easy to separate the plastics for recycling. Optical scanners and other technologies can help too.
  • Used packaging isn’t only recycled into new packaging: While used plastic packaging sometimes is recycled to make new packaging, this isn’t always the case. Used plastic juice jugs, for example, often are recycled into playground equipment, patio furniture, cooking tools, and more. And plastic yogurt containers can become reusable food storage containers, area rugs, tableware, and other cool products.
  • Bottles can become clothing: Many clothing designers today use fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles to make a variety of clothing, from fancy dresses to comfortable T-shirts to rugged fleece jackets to board shorts. The bottles are cleaned, shredded, heated, and then stretched into fine threads that are woven into soft, durable fabrics. These recycled fabrics can be manufactured with different weights and textures to provide a range of design options.
  • Plastic bags and wraps can be recycled at many locations: It’s easier than ever to recycle dry cleaning bags, food wraps, food storage bags, grocery store bags, product wraps, and more. Clean and dry bags and wraps are collected for recycling across Canada at various retail locations as well as through some curbside and depot programs run by municipalities. Manufacturers turn these plastics into new bags and other products—in fact, your used plastic bag could become part of your new backyard deck.

Today’s intelligent plastics are vital to the modern world. These materials enhance our lifestyles, our economy and the environment. For more information visit



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