Plastic Recycling Industry: Trends
Plastic recycling has been a hot issue in the US, especially after China's ban on accepting plastic waste. A couple of trends in the plastic recycling industry in the US have been detailed below.
Plummeting Recycling Rates
- The recycling rate of plastics in the US was at its peak in 2014 (9.5%) and it has been decreasing ever since. The weight of plastics recycled in 2017 totaled 3 million tons, which was a decrease of 5.4% as compared to 2015.
- Even though almost everyone is aware of the plastic waste crisis, especially after China's ban on accepting plastic waste in 2017, no significant steps have been taken to increase the recycling of plastics, which can not only put plastic waste to good use but can also reduce the generation of virgin (newly made) plastic.
- Company executives at a recent plastic industry conference also agreed that something should be done in regard to the increasing plastic waste crisis. Garry Kohl, an executive at Pepsico, said, "All we hear is 'you’ve got to get rid of plastics'."
- Despite the worsening crisis, many companies, including Chevron, Shell, Dow, Exxon, Formosa Plastics, Nova Chemicals, and Bayport Polymers, are either expanding old projects or constructing new plants. The total number of these plants reaches as many as 700. This is fueled by the price drop in oil and gas prices, which translates to the decreased price of plastic production.
Companies Promoting Plastic Recycling
- The news is not all gloomy when it comes to plastic recycling in the US. Many companies have pledged to recycle their own waste and to reduce plastic waste.
- Estee Lauder, Intel, Accenture, Texas Instruments, and Eaton are companies that recycle over 85% of the waste they generate.
- Apart from that, these companies "have made a strong commitment to environmental practices by establishing environmental management systems that include objectives, targets, monitoring and measurement, audits, training, performance records, etc." They also "received external certification (including to the ISO 14001 standard) of their environmental management systems across the majority of their facilities."
- Other than that, companies like Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Tempo Plastics have undertaken initiatives like the recyclable lid and pouches, although some say that they may not be of much help.
In order to identify trends in the plastic recycling industry in the US, we have leveraged information from credible sources and recognized the latest trends in the industry. We have backed our claims with multiple resources in order to add credibility to our claim. We have also made sure to stick to sources that either address the industry specifically in the US or are also relevant to the US if they address the state of the industry globally.