US plastic bottle recycling up 6.2 percent in 2012

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: November 7, 2013 3:05 pm ET
Updated: November 8, 2013 12:55 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability
Companies & Associations Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers American Chemistry Council

Plastic bottle recycling increased by more than 6 percent last year even as the amount of resin used to make those bottles remained essentially steady compared to the previous year.

With a jump of 161 million pounds, plastic bottle recycling hit 2.8 billion pounds in 2012 compared with 2011, an increase of 6.2 percent.

That translates into an additional one-half pound of plastic bottle recycling for each of the 317 million people in the country.

“I think the story is no unpleasant surprises,” said David Cornell, who compiled the 23rd Annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report issued by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers and the American Chemistry Council.

“There are some trends that have changed. I think the biggest trend that we’re seeing is usage per capita. This is virgin and recycled material, so we’re talking about what goes on the store shelf,” Cornell said. “Per person, we are not using more plastic to make plastic bottles. So those who would think we’re being overwhelmed, it’s not in terms of plastic bottles.”

Last year’s increase pushed the plastic bottle recycling up 1.6 percentage points to 30.5 percent for 2012, according to the report.

Word of higher recycling rates comes at a time when American isn’t really using any more plastic, at least when it comes to bottles.

The total amount of plastic for all bottles in the marketplace increased by 0.5 percent, or 45 million pounds, according to the report.

“What that tells us is that the per-capita consumption is sitting basically close to what it was [in 2011],” Cornell said.

When compared with gross national product growth of 2-4 percent in a “good and normal year,” Cornell said, the small growth rate in 2012 stands out.

“So is a half a percent very good when 2, 3, 4 is what you expect? Not particularly,” said Cornell, who runs D.D. Cornell Associates in Kingsport, Tenn., and is a technical consultant to APR.

The stability in the amount of plastic consumed to make bottles from 2009 to 2012, he said, “suggests to me that there’s been some significant changed. Buying patterns may have changed. Packaging patterns have changed.”

Impacts include lightweighting of drink containers and the increasing use of concentrates that allow for smaller packaging for products such as detergents.

Last year also featured a milestone for the recycling of high density polyethylene bottles, which increased by 45.3 million pounds to rise above 1 billion pounds or the first time ever, the groups said.

HDPE, while reaching 1.02 billion pounds last year, still was a distant second to PET, which clocked in at a total of 1.72 billion pounds, up 113.9 million pounds for the year. Even third-place polypropylene bottles jumped 7.2 percent to 47 million pounds for the year.

“In the United States, we have the capacity to recycle more used plastics than we are currently collecting, and innovative manufacturers are using these materials in new and exciting ways. Each of us can help by doing our part to get more used plastics into a recycling bin,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the ACC, in a statement.

The report is available in the plastic section of the products and technology section of the "Reports and Publications" portion of www.americanchemistry.com. Go to "Education and Resources" and then "Reports and Publications."

The information also is available at APR's website: www.plasticsrecycling.org.


Comments

US plastic bottle recycling up 6.2 percent in 2012

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: November 7, 2013 3:05 pm ET
Updated: November 8, 2013 12:55 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

PolyOne launches Geon BIO PVC using soy-based materials

April 24, 2015 11:48 am ET

More than a decade of research is paying off for Battelle Memorial Institute in the form of Geon BIO PVC compounds from PolyOne Corp.    More

Image

California may require more recycled content in bottles

April 24, 2015 11:16 am ET

California lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would bump up the required recycled content in plastic bottles for beverage companies to...    More

Image

KHS cuts packaging with direct printing on PET bottles, adhesive multi-packs

April 23, 2015 1:39 pm ET

KHS GmbH has been pouring a lot of time into solving issues related to direct printing on PET bottles, and after eight years of work, everyone...    More

Image

DuPont center in India gets LEED Certification

April 23, 2015 1:07 pm ET

DuPont Co.'s Knowledge Center in Hyderabad, India, was awarded LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.    More

Image

MeadWestvaco joins the Recycling Partnership

April 23, 2015 11:19 am ET

MeadWestvaco Corp., a global packaging company with some operations in plastics, is joining the Recycling Partnership.    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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

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

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

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events