Study: Growing number of containers aren't being recycled

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 31, 2013 4:57 pm ET
Updated: October 31, 2013 4:59 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Sustainability, Recycling

Recycling of PET beverage containers jumped during the first decade of this century, but so did the amount of those containers that ended up being wasted, according to a new study.

The Container Recycling Institute is out with what the non-profit group calls its new signature report examining beverage container recycling rates.

Overall, an estimated 243 billion beverage packages of all types were sold in 2010, but 153 billion of those containers were either landfilled, incinerated or littered, CRI reported.

PET bottles accounted for 79 billion, or 33 percent, of the 243 billion units sold in 2010, CRI said, and high density polyethylene bottles accounted for 8.5 billion, or 4 percent, of the total. Aluminum cans led the way at 100 billion units, or 41 percent of the total.

CRI estimates 647,000 tons of PET beverage containers were recycled in 2010, but another 1.5 million tons were wasted. That compares to a million tons of PET bottles wasted in 2000.

PET bottles had a 29.1 percent recycling rate in 2010, up from 24.8 percent in 2000, but still lower than the peak of 37.3 percent in 1995, the group said.

HDPE bottles, meanwhile, had a 29.9 percent recycling rate in 2010 for a total of 187,000 tons of recovered material. But that also means that 438,000 tons, almost 2.5 times more, were wasted, CRI said.

The group’s report also examined so-called non-traditional containers, a category that includes drink pouches, cartons and aseptic drink boxes. Some 20 billion of these containers were used in 2010, but only 1.1 billion were recycled, CRI said.

Overall, CRI said the “wasting rate” for all beverage containers was 63 percent in 2010, up from 59 percent in 2000.

“Recycling rates have stagnated in large part due to a dramatic increase in consumption of these beverages, especially at businesses and in public spaces where recycling bins are scarce,” said CRI President Susan Collins, in a statement.

Collins also pointed to what she called an unwillingness by state legislatures to enact effective recycling policies, including new or expanded container deposit laws.

CRI advocates for beverage container deposits and believes this is the most effective way to push recycling rates much higher.

The report, “Bottled Up: Beverage Container Recycling Stagnates (2000-2010),” is available at www.container-recycling.org.

Capturing all of the wasted containers would save enough energy to power nearly all of the homes in both Los Angeles and Chicago, CRI said. It would also eliminate as much greenhouse gas that is created by 2.3 million cars.

“To realize meaningful energy savings and reduce the GHG emissions associated with beverage consumption, beverage container recycling must dramatically increase across the country,” Collins said in the statement.


Comments

Study: Growing number of containers aren't being recycled

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 31, 2013 4:57 pm ET
Updated: October 31, 2013 4:59 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Akro-Plastic buying German subsidiary from Metabolix

October 24, 2014 3:32 pm ET

Akro-Plastic GmbH, a Niederzissen, Germany-based plastic compounder, has purchased the assets of Metabolix Inc.'s subsidiary in Germany.    More

Image

German export sales strong, push for energy savings continues

October 24, 2014 12:34 pm ET

Germany is the engine that drives the European economy — and when it comes to the plastics industry, German machinery is a potent force, an...    More

OSHA investigation launched following blast at NJ reticulated foam plant

October 24, 2014 9:00 am ET

Four workers were concussed and sustained minor injuries during an explosion at the Inoac Crest Foam plant in Moonachie, N.J., earlier this month.    More

Image

FTC warns bag makers to take care before making biodegradeability claims

October 23, 2014 12:30 pm ET

Makers of oxodegradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic bags should consider themselves on notice, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.    More

Image

Packaging specialist Amcor hits sustainability goals ahead of schedule

October 23, 2014 11:15 am ET

Global packaging company Amcor Ltd. has achieved its waste reduction goals two years ahead of schedule, according to the company's new sustainability ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events