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.

How A Company Recycles Ocean Plastic Twice The Size Of Texas

Posted on Forbes online today, Envision is once again mentioned for its collaboration with Method, to produce a resin recycled

Ocean Plastic bottle


from plastic collected from the North Pacific Garbage Gyre.  Whole Foods will sell Method’s hand and dish soap product line, packaged in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic.  The recycled plastic used in the packaging will include at least 10% ocean plastic from the Pacific Ocean.  Read the entire article by Lisa Wirthman @


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.


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