Thankfully, the recycle rates of plastic materials are steadily on the rise, with plastic bottle recycling currently exceeding 2.9 billion pounds annually, while the recycling of plastic bags and film has grown by 55 percent since 2005 and is currently at more than 1 billion pounds a year.

With that kind of increase comes an increase in the number of everyday items made from recycled plastic. Check out some of our favorite innovative uses of post-consumer plastic.

Smartphone Cases


Since smartphone sales are steadily on the rise, it’s good to know that it’s possible to protect them with eco-friendly cases. These striking, handcrafted smartphone cases from Brooklyn/Berlin-based caseable, were created using recycled bottles. In fact, all the cases from Brooklyn/Berlin-based company are created using recycled materials.



A must-have item for any backpack you’re going to carry to school is a pen and, thankfully, eco-friendly pens like the Pilot B2P are starting to be more readily available. The B2P (Bottle to Pen), is part of the Pilot’s Begreen line and are made using, you guessed it, recycled plastic bottles.



Determined to inject some “art and fashion sensibility” into recycled products, rapper teamed up with Coca-Cola to create Ekocycle, a line of clothing and other gear, made by using post-consumer waste. Those products, each of which sport a logo of how many plastic bottles or cans were used in its making, include high-end headphones called Studio Ekocycle, which use three recycled plastic bottles for each pair.

Children’s Toys


As we become more and more conscious of how and where our products are being manufactured, no area comes under more scrutiny than children’s toys. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of toys being made using recycled materials, like this fire truck, which was made from 100 percent recycled milk jugs. The company that produced it, Green Toys, makes all of their toys and packaging from 100 percent recycled post-consumer recycled materials.



The Engage Green Backpack, shown here, is manufactured using a high-quality polyester fiber, which is made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. It’s just one of many examples of backpacks that use recycled plastic products. Repurpose Schoolbags, for instance, are created using recycled plastic bags and even include a solar panel that charges during the child’s walk to school and transforms into a solar lantern for up to 12 hours.

Composite Lumber


One of the biggest uses for recycled plastic bags is composite lumber, which is used to build things like fences, benches, door and window frames, playgrounds and decks. This one comes from Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer or wood-alternative decking products. The average 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags!

High-Tech Innovations

Photo: Auris / iStock

Thanks to big green dreamers from the art, science and business communities, recycled plastic bags are now being used to create high-tech materials, including roads, diesel fuel and concrete bricks. With that kind of innovative thinking, there’s no telling what recycled plastic will be used to create next.

Did you know clean and dry Ziploc® brand bags, such as sandwich and freezer bags, are recyclable? Just look for the bin next time you’re at your local participating store. Learn more about plastic bag recyclability at