US recycling of rigid plastics tops 930 million pounds

Published: March 19, 2013 3:04 pm ET
Updated: March 19, 2013 3:12 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Recycling
Companies & Associations American Chemistry Council

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. and Canada recycled more than 934 million pounds of post-consumer rigid plastics, not including plastic bottles, in 2011, up 13 percent from the previous year, according to a new report.

And the number of people with access to local recycling facilities that are able to process rigid plastics also increased — a jump of 40 percent to 57 percent between 2011 and 2012.

The results of the two studies are directly related: the increase in local access has led to an increase in recycling.

The increase is a step in the right direction, but the U.S. plastics industry still has a long way to go, said Steve Russell, vice president of the plastics department of the American Chemistry Council.

We're not doing "really well enough...the good is, that's changing," he said on March 19 in an interview at the Plastics Recycling Conference in New Orleans.

The reports, "2011 National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Recycling Report" and "Plastics Recycling Collection: National Reach Study, 2012 Update," were released March 19.

More than 1,400 cities and 300 counties in the United States now collect all rigid plastic containers in addition to plastic bottles — the "all rigids" definition includes bottles, caps, cups, trays, boxes, clamshells, lids and bulky plastics like crates, buckets and lawn furniture, according to the reach report.

At least 94 percent of the U.S. population has access to recycling for PET and high density polyethylene bottle and caps, while just more than 57 percent have access to recycling for all plastic bottles and non-bottle rigid containers, according to the report.

According to the report, the number of U.S. containers with access to recycle two key categories of rigid containers — HDPE rigid cups, tubs and containers and PET trays, clamshells and cups — is now more than 60 percent.

This is significant because, for the first time, those containers can be labeled "recyclable" under the Federal Trade Commission's green guidelines.

Russell said the industry could look at other countries with successful recycling programs for ways to boost recycling here. European countries have been successful in implementing single-stream recycling programs.

Even countries considered to have successful recycling programs are only recycling at a rate of 30 to 35 percent overall, and the very best are recycling at about 50 percent, he added.

The U.S. recycling rate is about 8 to 10 percent, he said, adding that determining exactly how many plastics are recycled be difficult because data includes durable plastics intended to last for decades.

The majority of recovered rigid plastics were olefin materials — high and low density PE and polypropylene — which are valued higher in both domestic and export markets because of their range of uses and ease of processing, according to the rigid recycling report.

The report also noted that recyclers who purchased mixed material did process both the olefin and non-olefin resins.

The majority of reclaimed rigid plastic, 61 percent, is now being recycled in the U.S. or Canada, a big jump from 2007 when one-third of plastic was processed domestically.

The reports, sponsored by Washington-based ACC, were conducted by Moore Recycling Associates Inc. of Sonoma, Calif.


Comments

US recycling of rigid plastics tops 930 million pounds

Published: March 19, 2013 3:04 pm ET
Updated: March 19, 2013 3:12 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Sainsbury, Schoeller Allibert to recycle food handling crates

July 30, 2014 1:37 pm ET

British retail group Sainsbury's has contracted Dutch recycler Schoeller Allibert BV to reprocess all of its old food crates back into food-grade...    More

PetStar doubles capacity at Mexico recycling facility

July 24, 2014 2:10 pm ET

Mexican recycling giant PetStar SAPI de CV, owned by the System of Coca-Cola Bottlers in Mexico, has doubled the capacity of its facility to 130...    More

Image

Injection molder, recycler Polyvulc USA puts itself up for sale

July 24, 2014 12:41 pm ET

Fred Farrell and Larry Lambiotte, founders of Polyvulc USA Inc. and its subsidiaries Polyvulc Tire Recycling Llc and Winnsboro Rubber Recycling LLC,...    More

Image

Beer maker Carlsberg enlists suppliers for 'upcycling' project

July 22, 2014 11:14 am ET

Carlsberg Breweries A/S in Denmark has started an ambitious project with its suppliers to optimize its packaging for the purpose of “upcycling....    More

Image

Grocery store chain says bag recycling up by 10 percent

July 21, 2014 2:54 pm ET

Kroger Co., with more than 2,600 stores in 34 states and sales nearing $100 billion, saw plastic bag recycling increase by 10 percent last year.    More

Market Reports

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events