Methods for Plastic Wastes Collection

Plastic consumption has grown at a tremendous rate over the past two decades as plastics now play an important role in all aspects of modern lifestyle. Collection and disposal of plastic waste has emerged as an important environmental challenge and its recycling is facing roadblocks due to their non-degradable nature. There are four basic ways in which communities can offer plastic recycling collection services for plastic bottles and containers – curbside, drop-off, buy-back or deposit/refund programs.

Curbside Recycling

The first, and most widely accessible, collection method is curbside collection of recyclables. Curbside (or kerbside) collection is considered a low-risk stategy to reduce waste volunes and increase recycling rates. Materials are usually collected in large bins, colored bags or small open plastic tubs specifically designed for content

Curbside recycling programs are generally the most convenient for community residents to participate in and yield high recovery rates as a result. Communities that provide curbside collection generally request residents to separate designated recyclables from their household garbage and to place them into special receptacles or bags, which are then set out at the curb for collection by municipal or municipally-contracted crews.

Drop-Off Recycling

In this method, containers for designated recyclable materials are placed at central collection locations throughout the community, such as parking lots, mosques, schools, malls or other civic associations. The containers are generally marked as to which recyclable material should be placed in them. Residents are requested to deliver their recyclables to the drop-off location, where recyclables are separated by material type into their respective collection containers. Drop-off recycling programs are more suitable when residents are taking their garbage to a central waste collection facility or transfer station. Such programs suffer from low or unpredictable throughput.

Buy-Back Centers

Most buy-back recycling centers are operated by private companies and pay consumers for recyclable materials that are brought to them. Buy-back centers usually have purchasing specifications that require consumers to source separate recyclable materials brought for sale. These purchase specifications can greatly reduce contamination levels and allow the buy-back center to immediately begin processing the recyclables they purchase, while providing consumers with an economic incentive to comply with the specifications. Buy-back centers are similar to dro-off centers expect they pay waste generators for their items based on market values.

Deposit/Refund Programs

These programs requires collection of a monetary deposit purchase of a plastic container. When container is returned to an authorized redemption center, or to the original seller, the deposit is partly or fully refunded to the redeemer. These programs are familiar to anyone in the USA who has ever purchased a beverage in a can or bottle. 

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About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is a renowned consultant, advisor, entrepreneur and writer with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. He is the Founder of EcoMENA, in addition to being the CEO of consultancy firm BioEnergy Consult. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is a professional writer and is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability. He can be reached at or
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9 Responses to Methods for Plastic Wastes Collection

  1. Pratima Pandey says:

    Hello, nice, crisp article! Is the concept of buy-back centres in practice, in UAE or MENA region?

  2. In most Middle East countries plastic bags are used in all grocery and department stores including malls. Could the Government introduce laws to restrict these and instead ask suppliers of plastic bags to provide biodegradable plastic bags which can cause much lesser damage to environment? If required Governments can incentivize the plastic bag manufactures to change over to biodegradable plastics.


  3. Dear Dev, thank you for a concrete article on this important topic. Must use less plastic and clean up the oceans from the plastic debris.

  4. Nice articel on Plastic waste management. Points mentioned are worth adopting for every nation

  5. Richard Fox says:

    Hi All,

    As a Facilities Manager in Riyadh, KSA, I find it close to impossible to implement a basic recycling system, let alone consider implementing segregation systems, (which I consider basic also), principally as I cannot manage or track the waste once off site. The city it would appear and the contractors within are not ready to recycle without a significant uplift in costs, and then there is still no guarantee of correct disposal. I welcome anyone elses input from the Riyadh scene who has had success in rolling out such a program


  6. أشكرك أستاذنا سلمان ظفر وأرجوا إمدادنا بعناوين مؤلفاتك من الكتب وعنوانها الإلكترونى لأنى مهتم بالتنمبة المستدامه والبيئة فى مصر

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