A new industry coalition that aims to provide technical grants to improve PET recycling has set an initial target of raising $25 million.
The PET Recycling Coalition, which includes major PET resin makers and beverage companies, said in a June 8 launch announcement that it will focus on making grants to recycling facilities for sorting equipment and other capital spending.
The group had a preliminary launch at an industry conference in March but it did not including financial details at that time.
It said in a staement that it hopes to use grants and technical assistance to increase recycling of PET, particularly to meet the "skyrocketing demand" for recycled content set by major manufacturers and being spelled out in U.S. legislation.
One of the targets will be recycling more non-bottle packaging like PET egg cartons and fruit clamshells.
"We are excited to partner with leaders across the value chain to catalyze the change that will get all forms of PET, not just clear bottles, into our recycle stream," said Scott Ballard, president of plastics and circular at Eastman Chemical Co., a founding member. "Together, we can create a circular economy, leave fossil feeds in the ground, and do it with a lower carbon footprint."
The coalition said only 54 percent of U.S. residents have access to recycling non-bottle PET containers like egg cartons in their local programs.
Figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that only 9.6 percent of non-bottle PET packaging was recycled in 2018, the last year figures are available.
The group also said it wanted to fund work to reduce the amount of PET lost to contamination, noting that up to 17 percent of PET bottles that are collected in curbside bins and brought to materials recovering facilities are lost because of challenges in sorting, it said.
The initiative has set an initial funding target of $25 million over five years but it did not provide additional details.
In its statement, it outlined four priorities: increasing the capture of PET bottles; broadening acceptance of PET trays and other non-bottle packaging in community programs; unlocking new supplies of recycled PET for packaging manufacturers; and strengthening recycling of pigmented and opaque PET.
The coalition noted that only 26.6 percent of PET bottles were recycled in 2021 in the United States.
The group will operate as part of The Recycling Partnership's Pathway to Circularity Initiative. Founding members of its steering committee include Eastman, Indorama Ventures, Procter & Gamble and the Walmart Foundation.