Unlocking the Secrets of Polycarbonate Recycling: A Sustainable Solution for a Greener Future

August 28, 2022 in recycling, Sustainability

Article summary and Key takeaways: Polycarbonate is a widely used plastic known for its strength and clarity, but its recyclability varies based on location. Researching local recycling centers or waste management facilities is the first step in determining recycling options. Polycarbonate products are often labeled with a recycling number “7” or “PC,” but this does not guarantee acceptance for recycling. Sustainability factors of polycarbonate include its durability and longevity, but its production has environmental implications. Polycarbonate’s limited recyclability is due to the presence of other plastics in the recycling number “7” category and the potential presence of BPA. Evaluating the environmental friendliness of polycarbonate requires considering its entire lifecycle. Recycling polycarbonate can be challenging, but with the right infrastructure and programs, it can be done effectively. Responsible disposal and recycling of polycarbonate contribute to waste reduction and resource conservation.

Is Polycarbonate Recyclable?

Polycarbonate is a versatile and widely used plastic material known for its exceptional strength, impact resistance, and clarity. It is commonly used in various industries, including automotive, construction, electronics, and packaging. However, with increasing concerns about environmental sustainability, it is crucial to understand the recyclability of polycarbonate and explore appropriate recycling options.

Polycarbonate Recycling Options

The availability of polycarbonate recycling options varies based on location. While some areas have established recycling programs for polycarbonate, others may not. The first step in determining the recycling options in your area is to research local recycling centers or waste management facilities. Online directories can also be helpful in finding nearby recycling centers that accept polycarbonate.

Contacting local recycling centers or waste management facilities directly is another viable option. They can provide information on whether they accept polycarbonate and any specific requirements for recycling. Some facilities may have restrictions or guidelines for accepting polycarbonate due to its unique characteristics.

Identifying Polycarbonate for Recycling

Polycarbonate products are often labeled with a recycling number “7” or the abbreviation “PC” to indicate their composition. However, it is important to note that the presence of a recycling number does not guarantee acceptance for recycling. Some recycling centers may not accept polycarbonate products with a recycling number “7,” as the number encompasses various other types of plastics as well.

Therefore, it is essential to confirm with the recycling facility whether they specifically accept polycarbonate before attempting to recycle it. Additionally, it is worth noting that some products made of polycarbonate, such as eyeglass lenses or electronics, may not have a recycling number but can still be recycled through specialized programs.

Sustainability of Polycarbonate

Considering the sustainability aspect of polycarbonate is crucial in assessing its overall environmental impact. Polycarbonate’s durability and longevity are notable sustainability factors. Its resistance to impact and high heat resistance make it a durable material, reducing the need for frequent replacements and minimizing waste generation.

However, the production of polycarbonate does have environmental implications. The primary raw material used in polycarbonate production is bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial chemical due to its potential health risks. BPA has been found to leach out of polycarbonate products, raising concerns about its impact on human health and the environment. Additionally, the energy-intensive production process of polycarbonate contributes to carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

Addressing Common Questions

Can polycarbonate be put in the recycling bin?

While some recycling programs accept polycarbonate, it is not universally accepted in all curbside recycling bins. It is crucial to check with your local recycling program or waste management facility to determine whether they accept polycarbonate in the recycling bin or if alternative methods should be pursued.

What are the reasons for polycarbonate’s limited recyclability?

Polycarbonate’s limited recyclability can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the presence of other plastics within the recycling number “7” category makes it challenging to separate and process polycarbonate specifically. Additionally, the potential presence of BPA in polycarbonate products further complicates the recycling process due to its hazardous nature.

How do we evaluate the environmental friendliness of polycarbonate?

Evaluating the environmental friendliness of polycarbonate requires considering its entire lifecycle, including production, usage, and disposal. While polycarbonate’s durability and resistance to impact contribute positively to its environmental profile, it is essential to be mindful of the potential environmental and health impacts associated with BPA and the energy-intensive production process.

Is polycarbonate easy to recycle?

Recycling polycarbonate can be more challenging compared to other plastics due to its unique properties and potential contaminants. However, with the right recycling infrastructure and specialized programs, polycarbonate can be recycled effectively. It is crucial to explore local recycling options and contact recycling centers to determine the best method for recycling polycarbonate in your area.


Understanding the recyclability of polycarbonate is essential to make informed decisions regarding its disposal and promote environmental sustainability. While recycling options for polycarbonate may vary based on location, conducting research and reaching out to local recycling centers can help identify appropriate recycling avenues. It is important to remember that the presence of a recycling number does not guarantee acceptance for recycling, and specialized recycling programs may be required for certain polycarbonate products. By responsibly disposing of and recycling polycarbonate, we can contribute to the reduction of waste and the conservation of resources.

Question 1: Can I put polycarbonate in the recycling bin?
Answer: It depends on your local recycling program. Some accept polycarbonate, while others do not.

Question 2: Why is polycarbonate not recyclable?
Answer: Polycarbonate is difficult to recycle due to its complex chemical structure and the presence of additives.

Question 3: Is polycarbonate environmentally friendly?
Answer: Polycarbonate has a significant environmental impact as it is derived from fossil fuels and its recycling process is challenging.

Question 4: Is it easy to recycle polycarbonate?
Answer: No, recycling polycarbonate is not easy due to its properties and the limited availability of recycling facilities for this material.


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About the author 

Jason Farland