Recycling sounds great to most eco enthusiasts.
But, what some don’t know is that there may be a limit on the amount of times you can recycle certain types of materials.
In this guide, we look at how many times different materials can be recycled, such as plastic, paper, metal, glass and so on.
Summary – How Many Times Can You Recycle Different Materials
It depends on the material, and the type of item/product, when assessing how many times a material can be recycled.
For example, different types of plastic and different types of plastic items can be recycled different amounts of times – with there also being certain types of completely non-recyclable plastic.
In general, plastic and paper have shorter recycling lifespans than metals like aluminum and steel (which can be recycled almost infinitely with efficient recycling systems in place.)
It also depends on what the recycled material is being used for – some items and uses require a higher quality material than the recycled material.
Something to be aware of is that some sources say plastics can be recycled more than once or twice – but, you have to consider that this might be only very specific types of plastic or plastic items, and you’d have to consider the quality of the plastic after recycling more than once (as plastic fibres can break down, and the recycled item you get might be much weaker and much less durable or feasible to use – due to the shortness or weakness of these fibres).
Some estimates of materials and the amount of times they can be recycled:
Common plastics can only be recycled once or twice, but some plastics might be able to be recycled more times depending on what they are used for
Paper can be recycled 4 to 7 times
Metals like steel and aluminum can be recycled infinitely
Glass can be recycled infinitely
As technology and product designs progress in the future, we may see some particular types of materials (like plastic for example) change in their ability to be recycled more times.
How Many Times Can You Recycle Plastic
It’s a common misconception that most plastics can be recycled many times over …
In practice, the majority of recycled plastics are only recycled once or twice before being finally disposed of in landfill or incineration
The plastics that can be recycled more than once are considered durable plastics. These are items like bottle caps.
Unfortunately, once the bottle caps are turned into a recycled item, that recycled item has to be turned into a fabric and its recycled potential is over, just like the plastic from the bottle the cap originated on.
Plastic can be recycled 7-9 times before it is no longer recyclable.
How Many Times Can You Recycle Paper & Cardboard
Every time paper is recycled the fibres shorten.
It is estimated paper can be recycled 4-6 times.
The average number of times your printer paper can be recycled is about five to seven times.
After that, the fibers will become too short and can’t be made into copier paper anymore.
From that point, it can be made into more of a paper paste and can be used for things like newspaper or egg cartons.
How Many Times Can You Recycle Metals (Aluminum, Steel etc.)
… steel and aluminium lose no quality during recycling and can be recycled endlessly.
… metals and aluminum can be recycled infinitely
How Many Times Can You Recycle Glass
Glass … loses no quality during recycling and can be recycled endlessly.
Glass … can be recycled infinitely