With so much emphasis placed on green options, plastics processors can take steps to decrease their ecological footprint with compounds that include recycled content.
Price frequently is a key deciding factor in purchasing recycled resin. With the price of virgin stock at record lows in 2020, recycled resin sales are impacted.
Today, compounders are catching up with sustainability. As customers request sustainable options, compounders look for ways to offer competitive options.
Compounders today are looking to increase sustainability and recycled content in their product mix, and as a result are creating some formulations with as much recycled material as possible. Companies install equipment to allow them to maximize the amount of recycled material they incorporate in their operation, with some firms processing millions of pounds of recycled resin each year.
The decision to use recycled material is often a financial decision; when prime resin prices are high, recycled resins flourish. When prices for prime resin falls, many processors return to prime resins. In a sustainable world, when the price is the same, recycled resin should be the first choice.
Indeed, many shops find customers increasingly want to offer a socially responsible product, even if it means spending a little more money.
On the retail front, companies like Walmart and Target are driving the effort, demanding recycled content in products and packaging. Durable goods manufacturers like General Motors and Ford are also pushing for an increased use of recycled content in their vehicles. The pull through for recycling content is materializing at a surprising rate.
Despite increasing demand for green products, statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that the amount of plastics recycled fell by nearly 6 percent in tonnage from 2015 to 2017, from 9.1 percent of the total plastic generated in 2015 to 8.4 percent in 2017.
The U.S. generated 35.37 million tons of virgin plastics in 2017, according to the EPA report. Recycling totaled 2.96 million tons.
Resin manufacturers and brand owners are placing more emphasis on including recycled content in their products and packaging as public awareness on the use of plastics increases.
Going forward, a potential strategy for compounders is to focus on recycled plastics in an ever-increasing push for a circular economy that eliminates waste.
As consumers continue to demand fewer single-use plastic products, this will prompt plastics processors to be good stewards and reduces material disposed of in the environment and direct it back toward multiple reuses.
Major brand owners, including consumer packaged goods producers and big-box retailers, are listening to some of their customers who are asking for recycled-content products. As a result, plastics manufacturers must respond by increasing the percentage of recycled content in their products.
The demand for recycling has increased, and is slowly nudging the market toward a tipping point where new technologies and new and larger companies may come to dominate the market.