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Napcor reports ‘healthy’ demand for rPET

The recycling rate for polyethylene (PET) in North America was 37.8% in 2022, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (Napcor).

In its latest annual report, the trade association for the PET packaging industry in the US, Canada and Mexico notes the recycling rate for plastic bottles in the US alone has ‘held steady’ at around 30% over the last decade. It was down slightly at 29% in 2022 compared to 30.3% the year before.

Napcor observes that demand for recycled PET also ‘remains strong’ with over 50% of bottles sold in the US and Canada containing rPET. It cites a ‘healthy’ 15% growth in recycled content used in US bottles, which consumed 870 million pounds of rPET.

Additionally, PET thermoforms used an average of 12% postconsumer rPET content. The report says this signals a slow but gradual industry-wide progression towards integrating more recycled content into thermoform manufacturing. 

‘There is a growing demand for recycled content from manufacturers within both the food & beverage and non-food bottle categories,’ comments Laura Stewart, Napcor executive director. She sees this as continuing evidence that PET packaging can be reused and repurposed.

‘Everyone involved, including manufacturers, consumers and packagers, needs to work together and make significant changes to ensure enough PET is collected and full circularity can be achieved,’ Stewart asserts.

Napcor’s chairman Tom Busard Collection insists collection must be increased to boost demand for post-consumer PET. ‘This way, we can meet legislated and voluntary recycled content demands of the future.’

The report backs rthis up by pointing out that recyclers will need over 815 500 tonnes of collected PET, or 85% more collection than in 2022, to achieve 25% rPET by 2025. To realise the 2030 target of 50%, they will need some 1.7 million tonnes of postconsumer PET feedstock, which is more than three times the weight of all recycled PET collected in 2022. 

The full report is available for purchase here >>

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