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‘Resilient’ US plastics recyclers have great expectations

The US recycling industry is currently worth US$ 236 billion with the plastics sector gaining momentum. New data from the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) reveals the market employs more than 200 000 people, second only to the ferrous scrap industry, which employs 250 000.

‘Plastics recycling represents an industry that processed almost 2.3 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic material in 2020 despite a pandemic and related lockdown,’ says Steve Alexander, APR’s president and ceo. ‘We have every expectation that number will continue to grow.’

Steve Alexander: ‘If we are serious about reducing plastic waste,
we need to employ every strategy.’

This statement goes against a study published earlier this year that claimed plastics recycling had decreased by 5%, casting doubts as to whether existing schemes were effective. The ARP responds by saying these claims are ‘misleading’.

The average recycling rate for plastics is said to be over 21%, on a par with paper. PET and HDPE bottles alone have a recycling rate of 28%.

Alexander is confident that securing more input from consumers could boost rates to at least 40% with minimal additional investment and using existing processing infrastructure.

There are more than 100 plastics recyclers and 9 000 community recycling programmes across the country. ‘Increasing the recycling rate is important because demand for recycled material, a key driver of the recycling chain, is stronger than ever,’ Alexander adds.

‘Our new state-of-the-industry report tells the true story of plastic recycling in the United States. There is still work to be done but our industry is innovative and resilient. It is time to recommit to plastic recycling for our communities, for our environment, and for our future.’

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