PET container recycling rose last year, yet the recycling rate dipped slightly, in the United States.
New statistics from the National Association for PET Container Resources and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers shows PET recycling at 31 percent in 2014, which the groups said is “consistent” with the 2013 rate.
While the recycling percentage dropped fractionally from 31.2 percent in 2013, the amount of PET container recycling actually increased because overall U.S. PET bottle collection volumes increased year over year.
PET bottles and jars available for recycling totaled 5.489 billion pounds last year, up 1.5 percent from the year before, according to a report from the two groups.
And the total amount of postconsumer PET bottles collected for recycling reached 1.812 million pounds, the groups said.
“Despite some very real challenges in 2014, including low oil prices and volatile markets, the North American PET reclamation industry continues to process and market more material than ever before,” said NAPCOR Chairman Tom Busard.
While PET container collection was up for the year, fewer of those bottles made it to export markets. PET container exports fell by 14 percent in 2014 compared to 2013 and represented 23 percent of the total postconsumer volumes. That's the lowest percentage of domestic material purchased for export since 2000.
Domestic use increased from 1.513 billion pounds to 1.564 billion pounds year-over-year to reach a record high. That's nearly triple in the past decade or so.
“This reports shows a domestic PET recycling infrastructure that is sourcing materials creatively to fill expanding end market needs, through domestic, non-bottle and imported postconsumer PET suppliers,” said APR Chairman Scott Saunders said in a statement. “While the industry still struggles with persistent issues like poor bale quality, it is resilient and robust, and continues to support significant domestic jobs and economic activity.”
American consumers' continued move away from carbonated soft drinks to water is having an impact on the total weight of PET containers being used in the country, according to the report.
“The stagnant level of recovery was likely due to the continued impact of lightweighting and downsizing of single-serve beverage containers. The downward trend in sales of carbonated soft drinks also had a negative impact, making less material available for recycling,” the report states. “Given the light weight of water bottles, their increase in sales does not compensate for the loss of soft drink containers.”
The report is available at http://www.napcor.com/PET/pet_reports.html.