Not all materials are recycled the same and not all materials can be recycled indefinitely. Follow our series as we explore how many times different materials can be recycled and search for the phoenix of recycling 

Part 1: Plastic - 1 to 2 lives

Plastic is the trickiest of all recyclables. Different grades and forms of plastic must be kept separate to derive the best quality outputs; even then, most recycled products need chemical additives or virgin plastic made from oil to make the recycled products strong enough for use. This is why you see advertisements like "This t-shirt is made from recycled water bottles!" because that material couldn't be made into new bottles. 

Additionally, much of recycled plastic is sent overseas to be processed and usually comes back as something like those non-recyclable, disposable toys in kiddie meals. Programs like WRAP have localized recycling programs for plastic bags and films that are collected by grocery stores then recycled into plastic lumber by Trex in the US.

Even though plastic can only be recycled once or twice, it is still important to keep these materials out of the landfill when possible. In Clark County, you can recycle plastic bottles, tubs and jugsā€”see here for details on what plastics can be recycled in your curbside.

Reduce Waste and Keep Recycling!

Even if a product isn't reincarnated into its original form, recycling extends the lifespan of these materials, and lessens the negative impacts on the earth by reducing the need for raw resources. The most significant change you can make is to reduce your waste, use reusable options, and make consumer choices with the lifecycle of the product and its packaging in mind.