3 Tips to Step Up Your Recycling Game at Home, According to Engineers

    Innovators behind our plastic recycling technology share what they do at home to be conscious consumers and recyclers.

    Chris Anderle, a principal research and development engineer, is one of the innovators helping to shape the future of plastics recycling.

    He’s a part of the team behind our UpCycle process technology. Relative to conventional incineration and landfilling, UpCycle technology could result in 90% of waste plastics being recycled, when combined with mechanical and other chemical recycling approaches and improved collection and sorting.

    With the technology, plastic waste unsuitable for mechanical recycling is broken down into a recycled polymer feedstock, which can then be used to manufacture new, high-quality plastics. This differs from mechanical recycling, which simply melts down and reshapes plastic.

    In light of innovations like UpCycle that have potential to expand packaging and waste plastic circularity, Anderle said he believes recycling is something that all consumers can be a part of and should take an interest in.

    Here’s how to improve your recycling habits on a personal level.

    Learn your local recycling guidelines

    Start with your local household waste collectors since guidelines can vary based on city and country.

    Anderle said that most waste collection companies have lists online that detail what types of plastics or other materials can go in your at-home recycling bins.

    “The list of what can’t go in recycling is also important,” Anderle said. “There could be some surprising things on the ‘do not add’ list.”

    Pay attention to how you put items in recycling bins

    Knowing what you can and can’t recycle in your home is key, but the way you put those items in the recycling bin can impact what happens to them once they reach a recycling plant, Anderle said.

    Anderle said he tries rinsing out the bottles, containers or jars he’s recycling. This is because organic residue – like food particles – can contaminate materials involved in a recycling process.

    Avoid stacking items in one another, and try to remove lids if you can, he added.

    “Packing containers into other containers before putting them in your recycling bin can make things tricky for people at a recycling plant. It can hold up the process,” Anderle said.

    Try reducing your plastic usage

    Ruben Barajas, a research and development engineer and scientist also involved in our UpCycle process technology, said that on a personal level, he tries to limit the single-use plastics he obtains in the first place.

    Barajas said he does this by often avoiding using plastic eating utensils or straws. He also takes steps to limit his plastic usage at grocery stores.

    “I bring along a large reusable backpack to carry all of my groceries, which means that I can cut down on the number of single-use plastic bags that I have to use,” he said. “I still use some plastic bags – when I get a bunch of apples, I usually use one of the clear plastic bags from the grocery store to hold them – but I am thinking of a way to eliminate this.”

    Watch: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the technology making plastics circularity possible.