Collections up but recycling rate stagnant in US

More than 1.8 billion pounds (816,466 tonnes) of PET bottles were collected for recycling in the US last year, up 5 per cent on 2017, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR).

However, despite the rise in collections, the country’s recycling rate remained flat at just below 29 per cent. In fact, according to NAPCOR, the recycling rate has hovered around the 29-30 per cent mark for the last decade.

NAPCOR’s report found an on-going shift away from exports and toward domestic outlets, with US recyclers purchasing 16 per cent more PET bottles than the previous year. Also up was the amount of recycled PET going into bottles.

In light of the raft of brand owner pledges to use more recycled content in their PET packaging, NAPCOR’s report claims that in order to meet a 15 per cent recycled-content target, the US would need to achieve a recycling rate upwards of 38 per cent. This would require investment of more than $500 million.

To reach recycled content of 25 per cent, a 54.2 per cent recycling rate would be required, while a 50 per cent target would need a 94 per cent recycling rate. The latter would require investments totalling nearly $4 billion.