Just over 29 per cent of PET bottles available on the market in the United States last year were collected and sold for recycling, according to the latest "Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity" published by the plastics trade organisations Napcor (National Association for PET Container Resources) and APR (Association of Post-Consumer Plastics Recyclers). This represented an improvement of 0.2 percentage points over the previous year.
Although the bottle recycling collection volume hit an all time high of 1.604 billion lbs (ca. 728,000 tonnes) and the gross bottle recycling rate reached the highest level it had seen since the mid-ninties, Napcor and APR identified a number of problems adversely affecting US recyclers.
In 2011 lightweighting created perceptible difficulties for recyclers and collectors for the first time as diminishing material return required increased handling and logistics efforts, the associations concluded. Furthermore, the trade groups' annual survey revealed that PET recycling capacity in the US outstripped current domestic collection levels. Increasing bale contamination, which Napcor and APR attributed to the trend toward single-stream recycling, also continued to plague players along the country's PET recycling value chain.