Thousands of communities throughout the US collect bulky rigid plastics. Local governments and residents have embraced the opportunity to recover this high volume recyclable plastic through a few different methods. New York City accepts bulky rigid plastics in their curbside collection program, smaller communities like Northampton, Mass. have special collection days, while others choose to have a drop off program. Each type of program is briefly described below.
Because convenience is often the key to high volume recycling, collecting bulky rigid plastics at the curb is the preferred collection method for many US communities, and is becoming more common every year. APR’s annual “Survey of Each State’s Largest City’s Plastic Collection Programs” determined that in 2016 almost a fifth of the cities surveyed collected bulky rigid plastics at the curb. When adding this material to curbside recycling it is critical to fully understand what the MRF/market will accept and communicate this to residents.
Drop Off Collection:
Typically an open top, roll off container is used to collect bulky rigid plastics at a drop off site. As with any type of recycling, keeping the material clean of contaminants will help with pricing and market options. Good signage is important to help residents understand which bulky rigids are accepted and which are not.
Special Collections Event:
Adding residential bulky rigids to a special collection day is an easy transition, as they would be only one of the many items collected. Electronics, household hazardous waste, and textiles are a few items that are also collected this way. Given that residential bulky plastics are often items such as toys, large buckets, and laundry baskets that are still useable, collecting them at a special collections event provides the opportunity for “reuse”. Because MRFs may be the ultimate destination for residential bulky rigids collected, they will often provide a roll off container for collection/transport at special collections.