Where Does Plastic Recycling Really Go?

In the intricate dance of sustainability and environmental stewardship, plastic recycling plays a pivotal role. Yet, the path from recycling bin to final product is shrouded in complexity, presenting both challenges and opportunities.  

This journey, emblematic of the broader mission at rPlanet Earth®, underscores the importance of innovation, responsibility, and transparency in transforming recycled plastics into valuable resources. 

The Initial Step: Collection and Sorting

The voyage of plastic recycling begins the moment an individual disposes of an item into a recycling bin. From here, these materials are collected and transported to Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), where they undergo a rigorous sorting process to segregate each of the commodity types, for example cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum, plastics, etc. 

This stage is crucial, as plastics must be separated by type and grade (e.g., PET, HDPE, polypropylene) —a task that is both labor-intensive and technologically driven.  

Processing: The Transformation 

Once sorted, plastics embark on a transformative journey. After being baled and shipped to a reclaimer, they are cleaned and processed into flakes or pellets, a form that manufacturers can then utilize to create new products.  

This stage is where our innovative approach shines, as we leverage advanced technologies to recycle plastics into high-quality, eco-friendly packaging solutions. Our closed-loop system exemplifies the potential of recycling, turning post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials into products that are both functional and sustainable. 


The Challenge of Non-Bottle PET Plastics 

One of the significant hurdles in PET recycling is the issue of capturing and ultimately reprocessing thermoformed containers, including clamshells, cups, trays and containers. While many consumers have access to Thermoform recycling, much of the material is either ever placed into the recycling bin or never gets sorted at the MRF level.  

However, we confront this challenge head-on, employing cutting-edge technology to sort and process bales of mixed PET, so-called “Grade-B with thermoforms.” rPlanet Earth serves as an outlet to MRFs to reclaim any curbside collected PET, from bottles to thermoformed containers.  

This not only eliminates PET unnecessarily being land-filled, it also contributes to the creation of a circular economy, where every piece of plastic has value and can be used over and over. 

The Final Destination: New Products 

The culmination of the recycling process is the creation of new products. rPlanet Earth®’s facility, equipped to handle grade B bales with thermoforms, exemplifies the potential of recycled plastics.  

From premium packaging solutions made with up to 100% recycled PCR content to innovative products designed for recyclability, the possibilities are endless. These efforts align with rPlanet Earth®’s mission to minimize plastic waste and promote sustainability, demonstrating that recycled PET can find new life over and over, essentially eliminating the need for new plastic production.



The Broader Impact 

The journey of plastic recycling does not end with the creation of new products. It extends into the broader impact on environmental sustainability, resource conservation, and the global fight against plastic pollution.  

By understanding where plastic recycling really goes, we can appreciate the importance of our contributions to recycling programs and the value of supporting companies like rPlanet Earth®, which are at the forefront of sustainable innovation. 


The path of plastic recycling is not just about reprocessing; it’s about reinventing the lifecycle of plastics into sustainable solutions. At the core of this transformative journey is our facility in Vernon, California, where we specialize in creating groundbreaking products like our EnviroCup® Cold Drink Cups, Thermoformed Containers, EnviroPF bottle preforms. These products exemplify our commitment to sustainability and innovation. 

Our EnviroCup® Cold Drink Cups, are the first-ever rPET beverage cup line crafted entirely from 100% post-consumer recycled, curbside-collected PET material. Available in four convenient sizes with multiple lid options, they offer an eco-friendly solution for all beverage needs. Similarly, our Thermoformed Containers set the standard for rPET food packaging, made entirely from recycled content, available in five sizes with multiple lid options, catering to diverse food service requirements. 

These product lines are produced through an efficient, low-carbon footprint process, utilizing 100% post-consumer recycled content. This not only helps businesses achieve their sustainability goals but also ensures that quality and cost-efficiency are not compromised.  

By choosing our products, you’re not just opting for premium packaging solutions; you’re making a statement about your commitment to the planet. Join us in revolutionizing packaging and moving towards a future where every piece of recycled plastic finds a new, valuable purpose. 

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