A new report from RISI (Bedford, Mass.) describes the likely impacts of China’s new import policies on the trade of recovered paper. Outlook for Global Recovered Paper Markets, eighth edition, focuses on the North American, Asian, and European markets most affected by the policies and provides demand, recovery, and import and export data for all countries. Using different Chinese import scenarios, the report projects demand, supply, and prices of recovered paper in key regional markets. Visit www.risiinfo.com/product/outlook-global-recovered-paper-markets.
* The market for recycled plastic will reach $30 billion by 2025, according to Persistence Market Research’s new report, Recycled Plastic Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012-2016 and Forecast 2017-2025. The PET and HDPE resin segments comprise nearly two-thirds of the recycled plastic market and are expected to gain market share at the expense of other resin types with the exception of LDPE, which the report projects to grow significantly through 2025. Visit www.persistencemarketresearch.com/market-research/recycled-plastics-
Study offers Strategies to Increase PET Recycling Rate
PET is one of the most common resins used in plastic packaging, yet less than 30 percent of it is recovered in the United States and just 6 percent is reused in new bottles, according to a new study by Closed Loop Partners (New York) and Resource Recycling Systems (Ann Arbor, Mich.). The low price of virgin PET resin is one barrier to increasing rPET demand, so the study offers strategies to grow the market that focus on creating efficiencies and enhancing the material’s value. The study, “Cleaning the rPET Stream: How we scale post-consumer recycled PET in the US,” recommends
* investing in sorting and quality control equipment at materials recovery facilities and implementing best management practices. This would increase the capture rate at MRFs (below) by more than 10 percent, increase reprocessors’ yield 5 percent, and reduce costs 10 percent by lowering operating and disposal costs, the study says.
* installing processing equipment to bypass the pellet stage, blending flake directly with virgin resin. The result is 15 percent cost savings compared with creating pellet, as well as a less-discolored product.
* installing processing equipment to move flake directly to preform, again bypassing the pellet stage, which would save 15 percent compared with creating pellet. It would allow use of a high percentage of food-grade recycled flake (up to 100 percent) and a better-quality (less-discolored) product.
* encouraging end users and brand owners to commit to using the Association of Plastic Recyclers’ (Washington, D.C.) design guidelines, which would increase reprocessors’ yield 5 percent.
* and encouraging end users and brands to negotiate long-term purchase agreements with reprocessors to minimize volatility.
Strategies that Closed Loop Partners has not modeled but is currently studying include installing and operating chemical depolymerization plants, which would produce virgin-like components of recovered resin, and developing a byproduct market for non-PET materials, which would incentivize MRFs to improve the quality of PET bales and other commodities.
The study emphasizes these strategies as investment opportunities with multiple beneficiaries, including brands, MRFs, processors, and end users. Putting an additional $125 million into upgrading 250 MRFs in the continental United States could increase the PET recycling rate 6 percent, yielding an additional 80 million pounds of PET a year. Improving the rPET production infrastructure also would ultimately benefit other resin types, it says. Visit www.closedlooppartners.com.
Carton Recycling Availability Hits Milestone
Carton recycling is now available to 61.7 percent of U.S. households, up from 18 percent in 2009, reports the Carton Council (Denton, Texas). Reaching the 60-percent threshold means aseptic and gable-top food and beverage cartons now can bear the standard recycling logo, according to U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines for environmental marketing claims.
The Carton Council’s strategy for increasing residential access to carton recycling includes working with MRFs to ensure effective sorting, developing new sorting technologies, providing grants for sorting and processing technology, expanding end markets for recovered food and beverage cartons, and promoting consumer education and participation when access to carton recycling becomes available in communities. Visit recyclecartons.com or cartonopportunities.org.
EPS Recycling Increases
New methods of recycling expanded polystyrene and new efforts in curbside collection helped boost EPS recycling in 2016 to nearly 119 million pounds, an all-time high in the United States, according to the EPS Industry Alliance (Crofton, Md.). Postconsumer packaging was 53 percent, or 63 million pounds, of the EPS recycled in 2016; 47 percent, or 55.7 million pounds, was postindustrial foam, the group writes in its “2016 Expanded Polystyrene Recycling Rate Report.” Postconsumer collection in 2016 was up 71.7 percent compared with 2012, while postindustrial collection decreased 2.1 percent in that period. EPS-IA credits the growth to municipalities such as San Diego that have incorporated EPS into existing curbside recycling programs rather than banning the material. Visit www.epsindustry.org.
OECD Urges Governments to Promote Recycled Plastic
Governments around the world could do more to improve plastics recovery rates (currently at 15 percent globally), raise the quality of recycled plastics, and create incentives for the use of secondary plastics in manufacturing, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among plastic recyclers’ challenges are the relatively low costs of producing virgin plastics and the complexity of separating secondary plastic polymers and removing contaminants, it reports in “Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses.” The report identifies and analyzes a variety of possible regulatory, economic, technological, and other interventions, assessing each for its feasibility and potential impact. Visit www.oecd.org.
* A white paper from science and technology advisory firm Sagentia (Cambridge, England) offers strategies for manufacturers seeking to reduce plastic waste, particularly from single-use products and packaging. The free paper, “Breaking Up With Plastic: Technical steps to rethink, replace and reduce plastic packaging,” outlines several engineering and design approaches, such as requiring plastic reduction or recyclability as a core design feature. Visit www.sagentia.com/insight/breaking-up-with-plastic.
* The global market for recycled plastics will grow from $36.93 billion in 2017 to $50.36 billion by 2022, for a compound annual growth rate of 6.4 percent for that period, reports MarketsandMarkets in Recycled Plastics Market by Source (Bottles, Films, Fibers, Foams), Type (PET, PE, PP, PVC, PS), End-Use Industry (Packaging, Building & Construction, Textiles, Automotive, Electrical & Electronics) and Region—Global Forecast to 2022. Visit www.marketsandmarkets.com/pdfdownload.asp?id=115486722.
* Recovered paper’s market share in the paper industry has been increasing globally, but a large percentage of paper production still uses no recycled content, according to Environmental Paper Network (Asheville, N.C.). EPN’s new report, The State of the Global Paper Industry 2018, also notes that recycled fiber use varies among products, with newsprint and packaging grades containing more than 50-percent recycled content compared with as little as an average of 8-percent recycled content in printing and writing paper. Visit environmentalpaper.org/stateoftheindustry2018.
Packagers, Recyclers Promote Residential OCC Recovery
A group of corrugated packaging and recycling industry groups, including ISRI, have agreed to pursue actions recommended in a recent study the Fibre Box Association (Itasca, Ill.) commissioned. For the study, consulting firm RRS (Ann Arbor, Mich.) surveyed 1,000 U.S. residents about their residential OCC recycling practices. RRS notes that the OCC recovery rate has been near 90 percent for the past seven years, but shifts in consumer purchasing patterns could affect future recovery. Promoting OCC’s recyclability could help increase recovery, it says. The group agreed to promote the use of carts rather than bins at the curbside to accommodate greater OCC collection, support matching recycling and trash collection frequencies to provide equal access to recycling, and take several actions to promote communication and education about OCC recycling and expand residential recycling access. Visit www.fibrebox.org.
Using Recycled Plastic Lowers Energy Consumption, Emissions
Manufacturers that incorporate recycled resins in new products can reduce both the amount of energy they consume and the amount of greenhouse gases they emit, according to a report from the Association of Plastic Recyclers (Washington, D.C.). The Life Cycle Inventory Analysis examined the recycling processes for polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, and polypropylene to assess these resins’ environmental impacts compared with virgin PET, HDPE, and PP.
The life-cycle analysis quantified the total energy requirements, energy sources, atmospheric pollutants, waterborne pollutants, and solid waste resulting from the production of recycled resin from postconsumer plastic. It found that using recycled plastic could reduce total energy consumption 79 percent for PET and 88 percent for HDPE and PP when compared with using virgin resin, and it could reduce GHG emissions 67 percent for PET and 71 percent for HDPE and PP compared with using virgin resin.
The study lends support for manufacturers choosing recycled resins to meet sustainability goals and reduce energy costs, APR President Steve Alexander notes, adding that the full recycling chain for plastic goods “starts with companies manufacturing recyclable products and ends with consumers buying products made from recycled materials.” Visit plasticsrecycling.org.