Did you know that 7 percent of all the high density polyethylene bottles recycled last year in the United States ended up as film and sheet?
Or that 60 percent of all recycled post-consumer bottles were made from PET?
Or that a recent report backed by the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council and the Association of Plastic Recyclers puts the estimated value of purchased bales of PET and HDPE post-consumer bottles at $730 million last year?
That makes a lot of regrind.
The report made a splash a couple of weeks ago and was jammed full of all sorts of information — too much to report in an initial story.
So let's go back and highlight some more details.
The big news of report is that plastic bottle recycling in the United States exceeded 3 billion pounds for the first time ever in 2014.
But the 25th annual edition of the United States National Postconsumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report also showed that the five-year compounded annual growth rate for plastic bottle recycling was 4.1 percent.
Plastics News previously reported the total weight of recycled bottles increased by 97 million pounds year over year. Let's dive a little deeper into the numbers. PET bottle collection increased by 14 million pounds, but the recycling collection rate for PET dipped from 31.2 percent in 2013 to 31.0 percent in 2014.
On the HDPE side, collection increased by 62 million pounds, and the collection rate increased to 33.6 percent.
The overall collection rate for post-consumer plastic bottle recycling, btw, increased by 1 percent to 31.8 percent.
Total resin sales for bottles in 2014 was 9.436 billion pounds, up from 9.417 billion pounds in 2013. Total plastic recycled was 3.003 billion pounds, up from 2.906 billion pounds in 2013.
Polypropylene recycling, while small in comparison to PET and HDPE, is rapidly increasing. PP posted a 44.9-percent recycling rate last year, up from 31.8 percent in 2013. The actual weight of recycled PP bottles jumped to 79.5 million pounds in 2014 from 62 million pounds in 2013.
Post-consumer plastic bottle recycling has increased every year since 1990, the first year of the report.
And while plastic bottle recycling increases each year, there is certainly plenty of room to grow. The category has a recycling rate much lower than other recyclable materials such as metal and paper.
Here's what the report has to say about that: “one barrier to plastic bottle recycling is that too many consumers continue to be unaware of the significant usefulness, demand, and value of recycled plastic including HDPE and PET and PP. Data and experience show that plastic bottle recycling can be increased through sustained local education campaigns.”
Municipalities, the report continued, also “need to understand that they also can benefit from the sale of bales of bottles.”
Another barrier is the “lack of sufficient convenient access to recycling collection opportunities for products used away from home.”
If you haven't had the chance yet, take a deeper look at the report. There's lots of interesting stuff.