Demand for U.S. post-consumer recycled plastic is expected to rise 5.9 per cent annually to nearly 3.4 billion pounds in 2016, according to a new study by market research firm The Freedonia Group.
Gains will be driven by a number of factors, the report said, including a growing emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer product manufacturers, advancements in processing and sorting technologies allowing a wider variety of plastic to be recycled, and an improved collection infrastructure that raises the plastic recycling rate. Continued support by federal, state, and local governments for recycling efforts will also provide a significant boost to recycled plastic collection, processing, and demand.
But the overall U.S. plastic recycling rate will remain relatively low through 2016, with less than 7 per cent of total plastic demand. Some of the challenges include minimal recycling in construction products, motor vehicles and packaging film. Packaging will continue to lead the recycled plastic market in 2016, the study said, with strongest gains expected for food and beverage bottles and clamshell containers, fueled by rising production of recycled resins suitable for food contact uses.
A rebound in U.S. construction activity will drive strong demand for recycled plastics in construction product markets, particularly lumber and pipe applications. While advances in the motor vehicle market will be limited by the highly mature battery segment, use of recycled plastic in fabrics and other vehicle interior applications will increase at a robust pace.
Last year, PET and HDPE were the two leading resins used in recycled plastic products, accounting for more than 70 per cent of demand; going forward, PET will see “average gains” in demand, the study said, due to increased recycled content in bottles and thermoformed containers. HDPE will see fewer increases and will limit the availability of recycled resin.
For more information on The Freedonia Group’s new study, click on this link.