June 22, 2023 / minute read

Finding New Routes to More Plastics Recycling

Written by Kristen Rinehart, Vice President and General Manager of Recycling 

Demand for recycled plastic continues to increase across businesses and manufacturers, particularly for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), or plastic numbers 1, 2 and 5. As I’ve mentioned here before, plastic recycling is absolutely critical to our business success ­–– we aim to use 1 billion pounds of recycled plastic annually by 2032. There is a massive need even beyond ADS, and despite that demand, recycling rates in the United States remain stagnant and frankly, absurdly low. After reaching a nearly 10% rate in 2014, the Washington Post reported recent plastic recycling rates have dipped to about 5%.  

However, there is reason to be hopeful that we can rebound and continue to get more and more plastic out of the waste stream and into long-lasting products such as the stormwater pipes and chambers we manufacture at ADS. For one thing, we have great success: 91% of the plastic that makes it into the recycling stream is turned into plastic products. For another, because many of the plastics picked up at the consumer curb –– detergent bottles, lids, milk jugs ­­–– are fairly easily sorted, Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) such as Rumpke and WM can get those recycled plastics to companies like ADS. And finally, those MRFs are typically underutilized with excess capacity to handle a lot more material, particularly as they continue to make technological improvements to their sorting processes.

Therefore, if we have capacity, and we’re doing a good job of recycling the plastics we do get, I believe there are some potential solutions that aren’t overly complicated and can help boost recycling rates and increase sources of recycled plastic:





Bottom line: The U.S. has a stable, high-demand market for easy-to-recycle plastics, the capacity at MRFs, and infrastructure in place at most locations to handle more plastics. It will take a combination of incentives, consumer and corporate education, and policies to boost our recycling rates to not only meet demand but help mitigate environmental degradation. And it’s not as complicated as so many think.

If you’re interested in learning more about ADS recycling, or how you can partner with us to recycle even more plastic, please reach out to me at


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