New California Plant Recycles 2 Billion Plastic Bottles a Year

The world’s largest bottle-to-bottle plastic recycling plant just opened in Riverside, California, which will turn recovered PET plastic bottles into new ones.

While most recycling plants downcycle plastic bottles into polyester fiber for products like clothes or carpets, this one turns them back into their highest use – another bottle.

carbonLITE’s 220,000 square foot will recycle over 2 billion plastic PET bottles (with #1 on the bottom) collected from curbside recycling in California.

Until now, those bottles were mostly shipped to China where they were downcycled into their final use.

The most effective recycling that uses the least resources turns them back into the original product so they can be recycled more than once. Plastic bottles can be recycled into new bottles about five times before they must be downcycled.

Recycling two billion PET bottles a year will also avoid the need for the 48 million gallons of gas that would be needed to make new bottles from virgin plastic.

The company plans to double capacity to over 4 billion bottles a year in mid-2013.

Last year, California passed a law to recycle 75% of waste by 2020.  Florida set the same 75% target in 2010, making those two states the strongest in the country in recovering and reusing waste. Oregon recycled 50% of its waste in 2010. The US needs a national recycling plan – we still only recycle 34.1% of waste nationwide.

This huge potential for creating jobs and increasing resource efficiency is completely omitted from the national conversation.

Read about plastic bottles being made from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – the enormous dead zone in the Pacific that’s filled with plastic waste:

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