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Recycling of Non-Bottle Rigid Plastics in the United States Up Nearly 50 Percent in Two Years

Contact: Jennifer Killinger (202) 249-6619
Email: Jennifer_Killinger@americanchemistry.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 16, 2011) – The American Chemistry Council today released a new report which documents a dramatic increase in the collection and recycling of post-consumer non-bottle rigid plastics across the United States. The report, prepared by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc., found that in 2009, nearly 480 million pounds of post-consumer rigid plastics were collected for recycling nationwide, an increase of nearly 33 percent from 2008 and 47% since 2007.

The category "non-bottle rigid plastics" includes nondurable items (or packaging), such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tubs, polypropylene (PP) cups and similar food containers, and durable items, such as pallets, crates, carts, 5-gallon buckets and electronic housings.

According to the report a growing number of reclaimers have begun processing non-bottle HDPE and PP containers to produce resin for new end products.  And the number of communities collecting mixed rigid plastics also has grown in response to demand

Among the report’s key findings:

  • there has been an increase in the number of processors, end users and reclaimers of rigid plastics in 2009;
  • in just one year, there has been a 33% increase in collection of non-bottle rigid plastics; and
  • the number of communities offering rigid plastics recycling continues to increase.

Over 63 percent of households in California now have access to recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics and recycling programs across the country are being expanded to collect rigid containers.  For example, New York City, Philadelphia and over 60 communities in Connecticut have recently announced expansion plans.  Most municipalities that collect non-bottle rigid plastics accept household containers, but the report found that a growing number also are adding bulkier rigid plastics, such as toys, lawn furniture, laundry baskets, etc. 

"Recycling these valuable plastics not only keeps them out of landfills but also helps close the loop, as these post-consumer materials go on to have a second life as useful products," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

"Communities, consumers and business owners increasingly recognize the benefits of recycling non-bottle rigid plastics.  ACC continues to work with partners to promote recycling, provide technical support, increase access to collection programs, and promote greater consumer awareness," Russell said.  "This is the third year in a row that we’ve seen growth in this sector, and these results confirm for us the value of collaborative approaches to increase recycling in communities across America.” 

The report is based on data supplied by 60 post-consumer plastic processors, end-users and exporters across the United States.

The recycling of plastic bottles is tracked separately.  In 2009, plastic bottle recycling in the United States grew to nearly 2.5 billion pounds, marking two decades of year-over-year increases in this category. » view the full report: National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report.

Follow plastics recycling with ACC on Twitter: @Recycle_Plastic, http://twitter.com/Recycle_Plastic.

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