U.S. Plastics Recyclers Reach Record Volume

Posted October 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (Oct. 12, 3 p.m. ET) — U.S. plastics recycling continued to recover in 2010, reaching a record volume in addition to a small uptick in the bottle recycling rate.

A total of 2.579 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2010, a 5 percent increase from 2009.

The National Association for PET Container Resources in Sonoma, Calif., released its recycling data for PET bottles separately. But the full 2010 bottle recycling report also includes data for high density polyethylene and polypropylene containers.

According to the report, the number of HDPE recyclers decreased in 2010 with 26 companies active at the end of the year. The seven largest companies recycled 80 percent of the total.

The amount of HDPE reprocessed in the United States rose by 24.2 million pounds to 811.8 million pounds. The increase came in spite of increased exports and decreased imports.

According to the report:

• The total plastic bottle recycling rate was 28.8 percent, up from 27.8 percent.

• The total pounds of plastic bottles collected increased by 123 million pounds, with increases for PET, HDPE, and PP bottle resins.

• HDPE bottles collected rose by 2.5 million pounds to 984.1 million pounds. The HDPE bottle recycling rate rose to 29.9 percent from 29.2 percent in 2009.

• PP bottle recycling totaled 35.4 million pounds, an increase of 31 percent over 2009.

The report is a cooperative project between the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.

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