Recycling of post-consumer PET bottles increased by 80 million pounds in the U.S. last year, a slight increase that pushed the recycling rate to 31.2 percent.
That's a new record.
Plastics, compared to other recyclables, are far behind in its overall recovery rate. But PET is one of the shining stars in the recycled plastics field.
A new report from the National Association of PET Container Resources and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers shows that 1.798 billion pounds of post-consumer PET containers were recycled last year.
That includes 1.329 billion pounds purchased by domestic reclaimers, another 456 million pounds sent to export markets, and 12.5 million pounds sent abroad as part of mixed resin bales, the groups said.
The 80-million-pound increase pushed the PET bottle recycling rate up 0.4 percent from a 2012 mark of 30.8 percent.
“Demand for recycled PET continues to grow, with domestic use in bottles, polyester fiber and other applications increasing year-over-year,” said NAPCOR Chairman Tom Busard in a statement.
While collection is up year-over-year, the PET recycling industry is not without its challenges, the groups said.
Those hurdles include the fact that PET bottle collection for recycling lags behind demand as there is more than 2 billion pounds of recycling capacity. Lower PET bale yields also are being caused by contamination by non-PET materials and the growth of non-recyclable packaging, the groups said.
The report, “Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity in 2013,” is available at http://www.napcor.com/pdf/NAPCOR_2013RateReport-FINAL.pdf.