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Boost to US recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics

United States – A significant increase has been recorded in the collection and recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics in the USA, according to a report released by the American Chemistry Council and prepared by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc. In 2010, it was found, nearly 820 million pounds of post-consumer rigid plastics was collected for recycling nationwide – an increase of 72% from 2009 and of 154% since 2007.

Non-bottle rigid plastics include non-durable items (or packaging) such as dairy and deli tubs, lids, yogurt cups and similar food containers, and durable items such as pallets, crates, carts, five-gallon buckets and electronic housings; these are comprised primarily of polypropylene and high-density polyethylene as well as lesser amounts of other/mixed resins, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and low-density polyethylene.

The collection and recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics is relatively new and calculated separately from plastic bottles, which have been widely recycled in the USA for decades. Of the 100 largest US cities, the number collecting rigid plastics in addition to plastic bottles more than doubled over three years from 29 in 2008 to 59 in 2011. In addition, many communities are shifting to single-stream collection whereby residents are able to place all of their recyclables in the same bin.

The report also notes that robust growth in the recycling of rigid plastics in the commercial sector and strong pricing/demand for recycled plastic materials have helped to spur growth in this category. According to the report, among the five major types of recyclable materials, plastic scrap has the highest economic value per ton with the single exception of non-ferrous metals.

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