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PET bottle recycling rate held steady in 2013

PET bottle recycling in the U.S. rose to 31.2 per cent in 2013, a very slight bump up from 30.8 per cent in 2012.


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October 7, 2014 by Canadian Plastics

PET bottle recycling in the U.S. rose to 31.2 per cent in 2013, a very slight bump up from 30.8 per cent in 2012.

 

The recycling rate was determined by a pair of industry groups and announced in a new report.

 

In 2013, 1.798 billion pounds of PET bottle material was collected for recycling, an 80 million pound increase from the previous year. Representatives from the groups behind the study — the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) — note those collection increases were a product of upticks in material from states with bottle deposit legislation, as well as continued growth in single-stream and commercial recycling programs, which brought more PET into materials recovery facilities (MRFs) nationwide.

 

The study also notes that due to reduced demand for mixed plastic bales brought about by China’s Green Fence policy (which hit its peak in 2013), “MRFs may have been incentivized to move materials from mixed resin bales to PET bales.”

 

China’s Green Fence also seems to have made an impact on the tonnages of PET bottle material exported from the U.S. Roughly 469 million pounds of collected material, or 26 per cent, was exported in 2013 – the lowest volume since 2004, and the lowest by percentage of total collection since 2000.

 

“Despite very real challenges for PET recyclers due to limited supply and decreasing bale yields, this report shows a maturing, entrepreneurial industry that continues to innovate and find new material sources and process efficiencies,” said Scott Saunders, APR chairman. “Notably, domestic recyclers are contributing more than 790 million pounds of material back into U.S. production of new PET packaging; this is a significant demonstration of domestic closed loop manufacturing.”

 

Over the past decade, the report noted, U.S. PET bottle recycling rates have climbed each year. The 0.4 percentage increase between 2012 and 2013 in the second-smallest increase the industry as seen in that time frame; between 2010 and 2011, the rate went from 29.1 per cent to just 29.3 per cent.