394 million pounds of recyclate: U.S. PET bottle recycling rate now at 31 percent

Plastikflaschen (Foto: ©Ariane Sept / http://www.pixelio.de)

The total weight of PET bottles and jars available in the United States for recycling in 2014 was 5,849 million pounds, a 1.5 percent increase over 2013. This number reflects the total amount of PET resin used by U.S. bottle manufacturers from U.S., foreign, and recycled sources, with adjustments for scrap generated and not reused, exported bottles and pre-forms, and bottles less than eight ounces in size. This 5,849 million pounds serves as the denominator in this report to determine both the recycling and material utilization rates; it includes 394 million pounds of postconsumer PET recyclate.

These are the key results of a new „Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity in 2014“ just been published by the National Association for PET Container Resources (Napcor) and the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recycling (APR).

According to the report, several market factors and trends affected the volume of PET bottles on the market in the U.S., and therefore available for recycling collection. Negative factors included the downward trend in carbonated soft drink sales, combined with “right-sizing” of bottles to meet consumer demand for smaller serving sizes. Lightweighting of bottles also continued to have an impact on some specialty beverage categories, as well as still water, although to a lesser extent than in previous years. On the positive side, there was some conversion into PET from other package types, and bottled water sales continued to increase, as did specialty beverage categories such as energy drinks, teas, and ready- to-drink coffees.

The total amount, by weight, of postconsumer PET bottles collected for recycling in the United States in 2014 was 1,812 million pounds. The breakdown of this total shows 1,398 million pounds purchased by U.S. Reclaimers, 404,000 pounds by export markets and 10,000 pounds PET bottle component of mixed bales exported. This represents a 14 million pound increase in total volume of bottles collected over 2013. Because the amount of bottles available for recycling increased in 2014, and the bottles collected also increased, but to a lesser extent, the recycling rate dropped a fraction of a percent, to 31 percent.

The full report can be downloaded under napcor.com.

Source: National Association for PET Container Resources (Napcor) / Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recycling (APR)