Post-consumer plastic bottle recycling tonnage increased by another 4.3 percent last year, continuing what is now a growth spurt that's lasted more than two decades.
That kid from “Jerry Maguire” was born in 1990, Madonna had a hit with “Vogue” and folks started surveying plastic bottle recycling that same year.
The kid who knew how much a human head weighed — 8 pounds — is long grown. And Madonna is, well, no longer in vogue.
But new statistics show that plastic bottle recycling, once again, has increased. That's every single year since they started crunching numbers.
Plastic bottle recycling grew by 120 million pounds last year to exceed 2.9 billion pounds, according to the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers and the American Chemistry Council.
While the total pounds of plastic bottles increased by 4.3 percent last year, the overall plastic bottle recycling rate increased 0.4 percent to 30.9 percent last year.
“America's plastics recycling industry is growing, vibrant and poised to help brand owners, retailers, and packagers meet their sustainability goals with high quality recycled plastics,” said Steve Alexander, APR executive director, in a statement.
“The data are in and they clearly show that U.S. reclaimers are able to compete internationally to provide the recycled plastics that our customers demand,” he said.
Single-stream recycling continues to push more and more plastic through the reclamation system, but there is a cost to all that curbside efficiency.
Contamination, caused by intermingling recyclables, continues to be an issue.
More and more companies are turning toward plastic bottles for packaging, but that use is being offset to some degree by the trend toward lightweighting containers and using concentrated formulas that require smaller bottles, the new survey reveals.
And while more people are rolling their recycling carts to the curb, a lack of away-from-home recycling options continues to be a challenge, the groups said.