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

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Image

Small country introducing plastic coins

August 20, 2014 10:48 am ET

You've heard of countries adopting plastic currency, to replace paper money. How about plastic coins, to replace metal? It's hard to believe but true....    More

Image

GameDay Challenge expands the competition to the recycling bin

August 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

GameDay Recycling Challenge is returning this year as college football stadiums will compete to see which school produces the least amount of waste...    More

Image

Pactiv selling building products unit to Ireland's Kingspan

August 19, 2014 3:54 pm ET

Irish building material manufacturer Kingspan Group plc is acquiring the insulation business of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Pactiv Building Products for...    More

Image

Flexible film waste-to-oil pilot project continuing in California

August 19, 2014 3:19 pm ET

A recent decision to discontinue operations at a plastics waste-to-oil site in Portland, Ore., is not impacting a pilot program aimed at hard-to-recyc...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

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

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