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NAPCOR: more PET remains on US soil

United States – The US recycling rate for PET containers was static in 2011 owing to continued light-weighting, sluggish sales of carbonated soft drinks and flat collections, reports the US National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR).

The volume of post-consumer PET bottles collected for recycling in the USA last year amounted to 1.6 billion pounds – equivalent to a 29.3% recycling rate given that around 5.5 billion pounds of PET containers were sold in 2011.

Of all the collected material, more than 915 million pounds (57%) was purchased by US reclaimers for an increase of 18% over the previous year. Meanwhile, some 628 million pounds was sold to markets overseas. ‘€˜Combined with bottles purchased in mixed bales (59.6 million pounds), exports to the Far East totalled 39.5% of the PET bottles collected,’€™ the report states. ‘€˜This represents the smallest presence of exporters in the market since 2005 and reflects increased investment in domestic reclamation capacity.’€™

The NAPCOR analysis argues the high ceiling set by virgin pricing and the soaring material needs to cater to ‘€˜a wave of expansions and new plants’€™ resulted in export buyers becoming less competitive, thus keeping more material in the USA for processing.

Bale prices plunged again towards the close of last year once end users reacted to high prices by cutting back and cancelling orders.The report concludes: ‘€˜Once again, the market was reminded that recycled PET priced higher than virgin is not sustainable in the long run.’€™

Additionally, the full effects of bottle light-weighting efforts were ‘€˜felt by all parts of the industry – as collectors, intermediate processors and reclaimers had to handle more containers to obtain the same weight’€™, the PET study observes. Apart from adding notable costs, this trend also ‘€˜created logistical issues’€™.

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