The 22nd annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report marks the twenty-second consecutive year that Americans have increased the pounds of plastic bottles returned for recycling. The number of pounds of used bottles collected in the United States has grown each year since the industry survey began in 1990.
Domestic processing of all recycled plastic bottles – including imported materials – rose 89
million pounds over 2010.
“With reduced exports and increased imports of recovered bottles, plastic bottle recycling
continues to be an international business with domestic companies competing effectively,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of APR.“Being diligent about recycling your plastic bottles is a simple way to strengthen our domestic plastics recycling industry while doing something good for the planet.”
The report verified that single-stream collection – whereby all recycled materials are placed in a single bin – continues to grow, helping to boost household participation rates. “Even with increased collection, demand for recycled plastics far outpaces supply,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “We need everyone to do their part to get more plastics into the bin. The good news is that with so many communities adopting single-stream recycling, it has never been easier to recycle many types of plastics.”
This year’s survey also found that the recycling of PP bottles rose to nearly 44 million pounds, an annual increase of nearly 24 percent, with 64 percent of that material processed domestically as PP, rather than mixed with other resins. Although PP caps are widely collected for recycling in the United States, these data are included in a separate report on recycling non-bottle rigid plastics, which will be released in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the report showed that the pounds of HDPE bottles collected dipped slightly (1
percent) in 2011, while the collection rate for HDPE held steady at 29.9 percent. Imports of postconsumer HDPE increased by 106% to 51.1 million pounds, which, combined with decreased collection and fallen exports, resulted in slightly higher production in U.S. reclamation plants.
PET and HDPE bottles continue to make up over 96 percent of the U.S. market for plastic
bottles. In 2011, interest in lighter weight packaging continued among manufacturers and
retailers, resulting in the use of plastics in new bottle applications; however, market growth was largely offset by trends toward smaller bottles (e.g., concentrated detergents), lighter bottles and the sluggish economy.
The full 2011 report (National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report)is available in the “Reports and Publications” section of ACC’s website and on APR’s website.
Data on PET recycling referenced in the report were separately funded and published by APR and the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). A separate report, entitled 2011 Report on Post-Consumer PET Container Recycling Activity, is available on APR’s website.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) is the national trade association representing companies that acquire, reprocess and sell the output of more than 90 percent of the post-consumer plastic processing capacity in North America. Founded in 1992, its membership includes independent recycling companies of all sizes, processing numerous resins. APR strongly advocates the recycling of all post-consumer plastic packaging.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $760 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is the largest exporting sector in the U.S., accounting for 12 percent of U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development.
Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.