Recycling Of HDPE Bottles Tops 1 Billion Pounds In 2012


Baled plastic bottles waiting to be recycled

Baled plastic bottles waiting to be recycled

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 — Rate Climbs to Nearly 32 Percent

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Plastic bottle recycling by consumers increased 161 million pounds in 2012, edging up 6.2 percent, to reach nearly 2.8 billion pounds for the year, according to figures released jointly today by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The recycling rate for all plastic bottles rose 1.6 percent to 30.5 percent for the year.

The 23rd annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report marks the twenty-third 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.

During 2012, the collection of high-density polyethylene (HDPE, #2) bottles – a category that includes milk jugs and bottles for household cleaners and detergents – rose 45.3 million pounds to top 1 billion pounds for the first time, helping to boost the recycling rate for HDPE bottles from 29.9 to 31.6 percent.

“We are very encouraged by the steady growth in plastic bottle recycling,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of APR.  “Used plastics are valuable materials, and recyclers rely on all of us to make sure these resources make it into a recycling bin.”

“Thanks to increased consumer access to recycling programs and growth in single-stream collection – whereby consumers place all recycled materials into a single bin – plastics recycling is one of the easiest things we can do to benefit the planet,” added Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

“In the United States, we have the capacity to recycle more used plastics than we are currently collecting, and innovative manufacturers are using these materials in new and exciting ways.  Each of us can help by doing our part to get more used plastics into a recycling bin,” Russell said.

Alexander and Russell offered three simple tips to help consumers recycle more of their plastic bottles:

  • Bring it back. If you empty a plastic bottle on-the-go, bring it back to a bin.
  • Recycle all plastic bottles.  Today, recyclers collect all types of plastic bottles, regardless of the number, or resin identification code, printed on the bottom.
  • Don’t forget about caps! Recyclers want both caps and bottles, so please remember to twist caps back on bottles after use.


This year’s survey of plastic bottle recycling also found that the collection of polypropylene (PP, #5) bottles rose to nearly 47 million pounds, an annual increase of 7.2 percent, with 73 percent of that material processed domestically as PP, rather than mixed with other resins.  Domestic processing of postconsumer PP bottles increased 14 percent to reach 43.5 million pounds.  Although PP caps and non-bottle containers are widely collected for recycling in the United States, these data are released in a separate report on recycling non-bottle rigid plastics, which will be released in the coming weeks.

Together, polyethylene terephthalate (PET, #1) and HDPE bottles continue to make up over 96 percent of the U.S. market for plastic bottles with polypropylene bottles comprising half of the remaining 4 percent.

Exports of HDPE bottles rose 30 million pounds to 201 million pounds in 2012, while imports of postconsumer HDPE decreased by 35 percent to 33.1 million pounds, which, combined with increased collection and exports, resulted in slightly lower purchases for U.S. reclamation plants.

The full 2012 report National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report is available on 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 2012 Report on Post-Consumer PET Container Recycling Activity, is available on APR’s website.

The survey of reclaimers in the study was conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc.

Resources for municipal recyclers are available at and

The Association of Postconsumer 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 $770 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation’s economy. It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for twelve percent of all 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.

Think Green Thursday: Know Your Plastic Facts!

Courtesy of CBS Radio, Houston, Texas

July 18, 2013 12:00 AM

You are always told to recycle your plastic but do you know why it truly benefits our earth to do so?

Check out some of these facts about plastic and the importance of recycling plastic below inside of this installment of “Think Green Thursday”!

1. Did you know that Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour with most of them being thrown away!?

2. Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning that same plastic in an incinerator.

3. If you choose to throw your plastic bag into the ocean consider this: plastic bags that are thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures a year. There is a such thing as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” that is twice the size of Texas and floats in our world’s water somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii.

4. If you choose to recycle your plastic, then you are saving three to give times the energy generated by waste-to-energy plants.

5. According to experts, recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline!

6. As plastic water bottles are shielded from sunlight in landfills, they will stay there and not decompose for thousands of years!

So think about these facts the next time you are faced with the decision to recycle your plastic or not! Do you recycle your plastic?

Alpla to Produce Milk Bottles with 50% Recycled Content for Arla Foods

Arla Foods has appointed leading plastic packaging company, Alpla, to manufacture bottles on site at its new one billion-litre dairy in Aylesbury, and support Arla’s aim for the dairy to be the most environmentally advanced in the world.

Arla Foods Milk Bottles will Contain 50% Food Grade Recycled HDPE

Alpla, which is targeting an industry first recycled HDPE material content of 50 per cent in all bottles for Arla, will support the dairy company’s aim of delivering a zero carbon facility with zero waste to landfill in Aylesbury.  Alpla has already designed a new range of lightweight HDPE bottles, which will deliver a weight saving in excess of 20 per cent compared to Arla’s current milk bottles.

Lars Dalsgaard, director of supply chain at Arla, said: “The appointment of Alpla supports our sustainability strategy and commitment to become Closer to Nature. Alpla will blowmould and handle plastic bottles for Arla with the lowest energy consumption possible, which will assist our zero carbon ambition. It will also provide our customers with the lowest carbon fresh milk packaging available in the UK.”

Alpla will work at Aylesbury dairy through a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ operation. Although on site bottle production is currently used at a number of Arla’s other sites, this will be the first on this scale in the dairy industry. The new facility will be of the highest quality, and will have total flexibility, allowing Arla to react quickly to customer requirements in today’s challenging dairy market.

Guenther Lehner, CEO of Alpla global, said: “We’ve been working with Arla on this project over the last 18 months and it has been hugely challenging. Our continuous effort to develop plastic container manufacturing processes and packaging designs with utmost environmental and economic efficiencies in mind has resulted in Alpla being a perfect match for Arla in this exciting project. The whole Alpla team is looking forward to putting this ambitious concept into reality and to strengthening the close partnership between our two organisations.”

Alpla has considerable experience in the plastic bottle market, having in-plant facilities at blue chip companies all over the world (including five in the UK), as well as two stand-alone UK sites in Milton Keynes and Manchester, ensuring Arla has good supply contingency to support the company’s changing requirements.

More info:

“Recycling is Important” – A Young Person’s Appeal

The following is a letter to the editor of the Lahaina News (Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii) printed on October 27, 2011.  While we can’t confirm specific statistics cited in the letter, it is gratifying to read that a student at the Maui Preparatory Academy not only understands the importance of recycling, but is exhorting her fellow neighbors to recycle more.  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  Thanks Cassidy!


I am Cassidy Otto from Kaanapali. I attend Maui Preparatory Academy, and I am writing to you because our world has been failing when reusing or recycling comes up. I am writing to you because people all around the world near and far
aren’t recycling.

Why is recycling important to save Earth? Recycling is important to the world because it has a circulated system that brings the recycled materials in and mixes them together to have that same material into one, so companies are recycling and reusing. It is also important because it saves pollution. Since pollution is
one of our main issues in the world, recycling can help this problem.

How does it help pollution? When recyclables are replaced as new materials during manufacturing, we forget the environmental destruction caused by mining for metal, drilling for petroleum and growing trees. Usually, there is always a degree of pollution made in any manufacturing system, including recycling, but production using recyclables is surprisingly less. When recycling paper, you help reduce air pollution by 74 percent and water pollution by 35 percent. When recycling cans, you help reduce air pollution by 95 percent and water pollution by 97 percent. How awesome is that?!

How can recycling influence and change the world? “Recycling not only can
potentially save the Earth by reducing trash, but it influences people to
recycle in non-conventional ways. My sister turned a bed sheet into reusable
napkins. I have turned mailing tubes into a prop for a play.” That is what
my mom has said about it.

Not only does it save the Earth and reduce trash, but it influences people to
reuse, reduce and recycle more – to take those recyclables to the recycling
center again and again. I personally recycle, and it is a great feeling; just
recycling a garbage bag of bottles, glass, aluminum cans and newspapers is a
feeling that you don’t want to lose.

Did you know that to understand the value of recycling, we must look at the entire life cycle of any product – from the extraction and processing of raw materials, to the manufacture and consumption of that product, and then to its final disposition. Also, recycling creates a closing-circle system where products are returned back to manufacturers for use in new products, which prevents the
pollution and destruction that occurs when virgin materials like trees or
materials are extracted from the Earth.

Lastly, I read on a website that every year we generate 230 million tons of waste. By recycling 30 percent of the waste, we save energy equal to 11.9 billion gallons
of diesel fuel and greenhouse gas equal to taking 25 million cars off the road!
For every one million tons of recycled materials, we save energy equal to
35,680,000 barrels of oil in aluminum materials; 460,000 barrels of oil in
glass materials; 2,920,000 barrels of newspaper materials; 1,760,000 barrels of
oil in office paper materials; 4,010,000 barrels of oil in mixed residential
paper; 9,100,000 barrels of oil in PET (plastic) materials; and 8,870,000
barrels of oil in HDPE (plastic) materials. That is how much you can save by

Why am I writing this letter? I am writing this letter because recycling is a main
part of our world. I don’t want our world to come to an end, and everyone
having to live on Mars for the rest of our lives, because Earth won’t be able
to survive with human beings depending on it. Recycling only takes 20 minutes
of your day. It is that easy!!! I am passionate about this because I love to do
this. It isn’t that hard. Really! This is important to me and the world for you
wonderful people.  Please just spread the word.


The Future of Ocean Plastic – How We Made Ocean PCR

Rudi Becker, method’s Resinator (Director of Package Development) explains the process of creating Ocean PCR, from his blog post on method’s website from June 15 of the this year.

While the picture below is an extreme example, many of us have been confronted with ever increasing amounts of plastic that wash up on our coastline.  It’s estimated that several billion tons of debris continue to be added to our oceans each year.

Many folks are actively working to try to clean up the trash that ends on beaches, but we had to ask the question:  What is happening to all that plastic that is recovered from the ocean?  Couldn’t we divert this plastic and reuse it?

Late last year method got involved with the California Coastal Commission and helped support California Coastal Cleanup Day at a beach here in South San Francisco.  We thought that if we could sort out the right types of plastic from all the trash, we could take ocean plastic and remake it into new bottles.

The method clean up team hits the beach!

After hours of trolling the shores of San Francisco Bay we were able to pull together several hundred pounds of rigid plastic that we deemed suitable for the experiment.   We had to be careful to try to only select plastics that we knew had relatively the same melt temperature which would help with processing of the material later on.

The collected plastic was sent to Envision Plastics in Southern California, who was kind enough to help us with our project.  The process we undertook is really no different than what happens to all those bottles you throw into the recycling bin at home.  Envision took the ocean plastic we collected and put it through the following process:

  1. First the material is chopped up into smaller size pieces of plastic.  You get a pile of plastic bits that look something like this:
  2. The little bits of plastic are then put into a giant washing machine that removes any junk that may have come along for the ride.  At this point in the process Envision will optically sort the material and will grade it by color (we did not take this step with the ocean plastic, since this was experimental).
  3. The now chopped up and washed ocean plastic is then dried and put through and extruder.  You can think of this as a machine that heats up and blends the material into a molten state.  You end up with this rather unimpressive looking blob of material:
  4. We are not done yet.  We still don’t have the plastic in the right form to make bottles.  The last step is to make what are called “pellets”.  These are just little round disks of plastic.  On the left you can see plastic pellets made with our ocean plastic and on the right you can see plastic pellets that are made from typical bottles you throw into your recycling bin.  The color difference has to do with the fact we skipped the step of optically sorting the plastic so we ended up with a mix of colored plastic resulting in the black pellets you see below.

Finally it was the moment of truth.  Could we now take the ocean plastic pellets
and actually make a bottle with it.  After a number of tries we were able to setup up the extrusion blow molding equipment to make pretty decent looking bottles.  Again the bottle on the left was made with the ocean plastic and the bottle on the right was made with standard PCR.

This is an exciting first step and without a doubt proved to us that ocean plastic can reincarnate itself as another bottle.

Plastic Waste from North Pacific Ocean Gyre Successfully Recycled

method and Envision Team Up to Create New Plastic Material:
Ocean PCR

Method, in partnership with Envision Plastics (the technology leader in curbside collected, recycled polyolefin plastics), has developed a novel and potentially profound new plastic material; Ocean PCR.  The idea was born when, after achieving 100% post-consumer material in our packaging, we started asking
ourselves a simple question: what is the ultimate post-consumer material?

That led us to ocean plastic. What if we could gather some of the plastic floating in the North Pacific Gyre, and make bottles out it? We would be taking trash and upcycling it into something useful that could be recycled again and again. And more importantly, it could serve as a platform for communicating the real solution to humanity’s legacy of plastic pollution:  using the plastic that is already on the planet.

Well, we’ve done it. Recently, method was able to make bottles out of Ocean PCR. It is 100% post-consumer HDPE, 25% of which is plastic we have collected from the Gyre.

Debris Washes up on Kanapou Bay Beach - courtesy of NOAA


Taking on such an audacious challenge requires putting aside the reasons why something won’t work, and inventing new solutions. Making bottles out of ocean
plastic has meant overcoming two primary challenges: 1) How do you make a high quality bottle out of degraded, brittle plastic that has been floating in the
ocean for a decade or more?; and 2) how do you establish a supply chain for a
material that’s floating in the ocean 2000 miles off the West Coast? To solve these problems, method looked to the experts to partner with.

Envision Plastics is one of the leading recyclers of HDPE in the
world, and manufactures the PCR material in method’s laundry detergent bottles. When Rudi Becker (our packaging director at method) and I first approached Envision about our idea, we did so with apprehension, not knowing how our business partner would respond to such a crazy idea. To our
delight, the people at Envision, already in the recycling business, were well
aware of the issues of our plastic pollution problem, and eager to do something
big to address. Since then Envision has donated line time, invented new processes, and busted through barriers to help us engineer Ocean PCR that has similar product performance to virgin HDPE resin. In fact, an entirely new process has been created that allows us to clean, blend, and remanufacture low quality material into high quality plastic.

On the supply chain side, method tapped into a network of beach cleanup organizations, particularly in Hawaii. Hawaii, as one of the most remote land masses on the planet, sits at the southern edge of the Gyre. Because of the ocean winds and currents in the region, much of the plastic from the Gyre ends up washing up on the beaches of Hawaii.  The strategy would be to intercept the plastic that they collect, normally bound for landfill, and divert it to Envision. Having participated in some of these cleanups ourselves, we have picked up bleach bottles from Japan and household items from mainland USA, on beaches in Hawaii.  During one cleanup, a Hawaiian monk seal and a green sea turtle crawled up on the beach while we were picking up plastic.

Sea Turtle on Kahuku Beach

Two endangered species, making their home on a remote beach made of plastic.

Having successfully made bottles we can fill, the next step will be scaling it up and bringing this to market, something we intend to do with a major US retailer. Imagine the proposition of this method product – for every one you buy, you take 15 grams of plastic out of the ocean. Pretty cool. The point, of course, is not to clean up the Gyre. The scientists who study this problem will tell you there is no practical way to clean it up; the area is just too remote, and the plastic too
small. The goal is to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution, and to point us toward the solution already in front of us – using the plastic that we already have. That way, more people will ask for it, and more manufacturers will make it. And perhaps we’ll be one step closer to a more verdant and sustainable world.

Stay tuned!

…and check back next week for Rudi Becker’s report for more details on how we did it. Rudi is method’s resinator, otherwise known as our packaging director.


Read more about it at:

Press release: