This week we publish our annual ranking of North American recyclers and brokers. The top 22 companies appear in our chart, plus all 170 companies appear in the directory.
This special report aims to capture the volume of recycled material sold on the open market. Our goal is to shine a light on how much resin is available for processors to purchase and to identify the companies that supply it. That is different from other listings of recyclers that include firms that recycle exclusively for their own consumption.
We also aim to identify companies that sell clean material that processors can use, not recycled materials that need additional cleaning or reprocessing.
That said, 2021 saw a significant swing toward more captive recycling, that is, firms that both reprocess material and circle it back into their own products.
The push for more recycled content in products makes recycling operations look attractive as in-house capabilities, closing the gap on carbon footprints and eliminating a middle-man. Companies like Azek Building Products, Mauser Packaging Solutions and Return Polymers Inc. may only sell excess material if they have it. Our popular processor rankings capture the recycling throughput data for those companies.
Consolidation is a big factor in this year's results, too. Revolution Sustainable Materials LLC combines previously listed Delta Plastics of the South LLC and Jadcore LLC. Evergreen with UltrePET LLC and Faith Group Co. Inc. with PolyQuest Inc. are more examples.
The three-plant breakup of bankrupt CarbonLite Recycling LLC added all three buyers to the top 22.
All together, our list represents 13.8 billion pounds of recycled resin. That is up 6 percent over last year when adjusted to remove captive reprocessors. Some 3 billion pounds were brokered and sold as is, while 10.8 billion pounds, or 78 percent, was handled anywhere from sorting to repelletizing. That mix held steady with 41 percent post-consumer and 58 percent post-industrial.
The biggest news is ADS Recycling has jumped into the No. 1 slot with 647 million pounds of reprocessed material, which is a gain of 30 percent. With recent expansion plans, parent firm Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. should also make future gains in our pipe makers ranking.
Ohio leads the count of headquarter locations for plastics recyclers, with 17 companies, followed closely by Michigan and California with 14 and 13, respectively.
High density polyethylene tops the material list. Polypropylene and PET come in second and third.