ESG resource

October 16, 2023


The Top 5 Challenges with Recycling Plastics...and Potential Solutions

Explore business challenges and solutions in plastic recycling from waste management experts.

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Plastic recycling has become a global environmental imperative, with increasing awareness of the devastating effects of plastic pollution on our planet. Many businesses are recognizing the need to adopt sustainable practices, including recycling plastics, to mitigate their environmental impact. However, the journey toward sustainable plastic recycling is fraught with challenges that businesses must overcome. In this blog, we will explore the top five challenges businesses face when it comes to recycling plastics and offer potential solutions to these pressing issues.

Contamination of Plastic Waste

One of the foremost challenges in plastic recycling is the contamination of plastic waste. Contamination occurs when different types of plastics or non-recyclable materials are mixed with recyclable plastics. This makes it difficult to separate and process plastics effectively. Contaminated plastic waste can compromise the quality of recycled products, potentially rendering them unusable. Common contaminants include food residues, labels, adhesives, and other non-plastic materials.

Potential Solutions

Education and Awareness

Businesses can take a proactive role in educating employees and customers on the importance of proper plastic waste segregation. Clear labeling and educational materials can help reduce contamination.

Improved Collection Systems

Implementing well-designed collection systems that separate recyclable plastics from other waste streams can significantly reduce contamination.

Advanced Sorting Technologies

Investing in advanced sorting technologies, such as automated optical sorting systems, can improve the accuracy of plastic waste separation and reduce contamination.

Lack of Standardization in Plastic Types

Plastics come in various forms, each with unique chemical compositions and properties. The lack of standardization in plastic types makes recycling a complex process. Businesses often struggle to identify and separate different plastics effectively, making recycling less efficient and economically viable.

Potential Solutions

Industry Collaboration

Encourage businesses to collaborate with industry partners to develop and implement standardized labeling and identification systems for plastics. This will facilitate easier identification and sorting.

Investment in Sorting Technologies

Businesses can invest in state-of-the-art sorting machinery that can accurately identify and segregate various types of plastics.

Material Innovation

Support research and development in the creation of more recyclable plastics with consistent properties, making the recycling process more straightforward.

Limited Market Demand for Recycled Plastics

Recycling plastics is only sustainable if there is a robust market for the resulting recycled materials. Unfortunately, many businesses face the challenge of limited market demand for recycled plastics. This is partly due to concerns about the quality and reliability of recycled plastic products compared to virgin plastics.

Potential Solutions

Product Innovation

Encourage businesses to develop new and innovative products made from recycled plastics, showcasing their durability and functionality.

Consumer Education

Promote awareness among consumers about the environmental benefits of purchasing products made from recycled plastics, which can drive demand.

Collaborative Initiatives

Work together with other businesses and industry players to create a strong market for recycled plastics, supporting the circular economy.

High Processing Costs

Recycling plastics can be cost-intensive, particularly due to the need for advanced machinery, skilled labor, and energy consumption. These high processing costs can discourage businesses from embracing plastic recycling, as it may not always be economically viable.

Potential Solutions

Energy-Efficient Technologies

Invest in energy-efficient recycling technologies and practices to reduce energy consumption, thus lowering overall processing costs.

Economies of Scale

Encourage businesses to collaborate and consolidate recycling efforts to achieve economies of scale, reducing costs for each participant.

Government Incentives

Advocate for government incentives, such as tax breaks and subsidies, to offset the initial high costs of recycling infrastructure and equipment.

Inadequate Collection and Infrastructure

Efficient plastic recycling requires a well-developed and widespread collection and infrastructure system. Many regions lack the necessary infrastructure to collect, transport, and process plastic waste effectively, limiting the availability of recyclable plastics.

Potential Solutions

Investment in Collection Networks

Businesses can contribute to the development of collection and recycling infrastructure in their local communities, supporting the growth of recycling initiatives.

Collaboration with Waste Management Companies

Partner with waste management companies to ensure the efficient collection and transport of plastic waste to recycling facilities.

Advocacy and Policy Support

Encourage policymakers to invest in and promote recycling infrastructure, including creating incentives for businesses to participate in recycling efforts.


Recycling plastics is a critical component of sustainable business practices in today's world. However, it comes with its fair share of challenges, from contamination and the lack of standardization in plastic types to limited market demand, high processing costs, and inadequate infrastructure. To address these challenges, businesses must take proactive steps, including education, collaboration, and innovation, to create a more sustainable and circular approach to plastic usage. By overcoming these hurdles, businesses can play a vital role in reducing plastic pollution and working toward a more environmentally responsible future.

Keter Environmental Services – Done for you Waste Tracking and Recycling

At Keter, we offer customized solutions to help our clients tackle waste management challenges with a focus on sustainability. We believe in collaboration and act as a bridge between site managers, corporate offices, waste haulers, and recycling facilities to ensure clear communication and streamlined waste management protocols. Our efforts not only reduce waste but also enhance public perception, operational efficiency, and overall sustainability for our clients. All our services are supported by our proprietary waste management tracking system, eTrac, which is your one-stop location for all things waste program management.

We understand that responsible resource management is crucial in today's world, and Keter Environmental Services offers the expertise and solutions necessary for companies to transform waste management into a strategic advantage. By embracing sustainable waste practices through Keter's guidance, organizations can lead the way toward a greener future while enjoying the benefits of enhanced reputation and operational excellence.

If you're interested in learning more, you can schedule a call with a member of our team or contact us here!