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Solid uptrend in US plastic bottle recycling

United States – Plastic bottle recycling in the USA increased by 4.3% in 2013 to 1.3 million tonnes (2.9 billion pounds), according to the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The figures are based on a survey conducted by Moore Recycling Associates.

The annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report notes that, for the twenty-fourth consecutive year since the industry survey began in 1990, the volume of used bottles collected for recycling in the USA achieved year-on-year growth. In 2013, there was growth in collections of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles – a category that includes milk jugs and bottles for household cleaners – whereas the recycling rate remained flat.

Domestic processing of post-consumer plastic bottles was higher and exports of post-consumer plastic bottle bales fell from 28.4% to 20.4% of the collected volume – their lowest level in five years. Other trends highlighted in the report include: continuing growth in single-stream collection of household recyclables, resulting in higher participation rates but also increased contamination; and an expanded use of plastic bottles in packaging applications which is being ‘offset by continued lightweighting and increased use of concentrates with smaller, lighter bottles’.

It is also noted that reclaimers are ‘capturing greater value through enhanced sorting operations’ while ‘a lack of access to away-from-home recycling continues to be a barrier to increased collection’.

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