DALLAS — Post-consumer plastic film packaging recycling jumped 11 percent year-over-year, according to new findings from the American Chemistry Council.
And the trade group believes there's still plenty of more room for growth.
The new statistics, based on 2013 numbers, were released Feb. 24 as part of the Plastics Recycling 2015 conference in Dallas.
The jump of 116 million pounds, to an estimated 1.14 billion pounds, marks the highest annual collection total since the ACC started surveying collection in 2005. This category includes wraps, bags and commercial stretch film made primarily from polyethylene.
“The numbers are remarkable and they reflect an awful lot of work and focus on the entire value chain from the resin makers, the film makers, the collectors and the end use customers to come together around the message that flexible film and bag are first a recyclable product and secondly where and how to do it,” said Steve Russell, ACC's vice president of plastics, said at the conference.
“I'm confident that we're going to see that number grow even more,” he said.
Moore Recycling Associates authored the new findings, 2013 National Postconsumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report, for ACC's Plastics Division.
Among the details, the report indicates that polyethylene film recycling has increased by 74 percent since 2005, the trade group said.
Overall increases are attributed, in part, to greater collection efforts taking place at small and mid-size businesses. Consumers also are more frequently bringing their used bags and film to in-store collection program, ACC said.
While bags and film saw a significant increase in recycling in 2013, ACC also released a report on the recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics that actually saw a slight dip of 1 percent from 2012 to 2013.
That report, the 2013 National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report, said the amount collected in 2013 was still triple the total from 2007 when that report was first issued.
Despite the overall decrease of 1 percent, the report indicates that there was a 17-percent increase in domestic reprocessing of these materials. Some 67 percent of the material was reprocessed in the United States and Canada.
China's Green Fence initiative, aimed at cleaning up recyclables entering that country, helped push the rigid plastics number lower, the first time that's happened during the report's history, ACC said.
Green Fence was the primary factor in the decline, but Russell said changes in reporting methodology could have had a small impact on the numbers as well.
Tighter controls in China provided more material for domestic processors, but also caused recyclers in the United States to meet higher quality standards, Moore Recycling Associates said.