MOSCOW (MRC) -- US PET recycling rate posted modest increase in 2021, said Recyclingtoday.
The U.S. recycling rate for postconsumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) increased to 28.6% in 2021, up from 27.1% in 2020, while the North American rate (U.S., Canada and Mexico) increased to 36.8%, up from 34.2% in 2020, according to a report released by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), Charlotte, North Carolina.
NAPCOR notes a number of first-time achievements in its 2021 PET Recycling Report, including the largest amount of postconsumer PET ever collected, with PET bottle collection in the U.S. exceeding 1.9 billion pounds. Additionally, thermoforms collected for recycling in the U.S. and Canada reached 142 million pounds, setting a new record.
“These rates mark two major milestones in the growth of PET awareness, appreciation, use and reuse,” says Laura Stewart, NAPCOR executive director. “The 2021 increase is a powerful indicator that pandemic-driven disruptions to recycling services are getting back on track. It is also important to point out that the North American rate is over the 30 percent recycling threshold suggested by the Ellen McArthur Foundation. This is viewed by many industry pundits as the postconsumer benchmark for proving that recycling works in practice and scale across multiple regions representing at least 400 million inhabitants.”
“The rebound in the amount of PET bottles collected in 2021 is encouraging,” says Tom Busard, NAPCOR chairman and chief polymers and recycling officer for Plastipak Packaging Inc., Plymouth, Michigan, and president of Clean Tech, Plastipak’s recycling affiliate. “PET recycling is working, but there is a need to see increased collection to meet both legislated and voluntary recycled content demands of the future.”
Supporting the conclusion that COVID-19 disruptions to PET recycling have been overcome, NAPCOR points to these findings in its report: The volume of PET collected via deposit redemption systems, or bottle bills, increased by 46 percent compared with 2020. For the second consecutive year, more rPET was used in the Food/Beverage and Nonfood/Beverage Bottle categories, surpassing demand in the rPET fiber market in the U.S. and Canada.
Food/Beverage alone took the largest share of rPET consumption.
The U.S. rPET textile fiber industry faced higher prices and more competition for clear rPET in 2021 but still achieved total rPET fiber production of more than 1 billion pounds by sourcing greater volumes of colored rPET flake (57 percent) and greater volumes of postindustrial rPET flake (11 percent) relative to 2019.
Evidence points to a movement toward thermoformed tray-to-tray circularity, with 11 million pounds of PET thermoforms having been used by thermoform converters to produce more of this type of packaging. Also, a record 142 million pounds of PET thermoforms were collected for recycling, 73 percent of which were processed by PET reclaimers in the U.S. and Canada.
We remind, ExxonMobil Corp., Irving, Texas, has announced plans to build its first large-scale postuse plastic advanced recycling facility in Baytown, Texas. The company says it expects to begin operations at the facility by the end of 2022.