Plastics Recycling Update Magazine

Updated: 1 day 5 min ago

Industry beats sleet, gathers in Dallas

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 17:00
Industry beats sleet, gathers in Dallas

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

The Plastics Recycling Conference in Texas this year marked the 10th iteration of the event and drew strong attendance.

Taking place this week at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, Plastics Recycling 2015 brought in more than 1500 attendees from 40 countries. Winter Storm Quantum, which ushered in rare snowfall to the region and icy conditions at airports, caused travel delays for many attendees but networking and education heated up quickly.

Festivities kicked off on Monday with the Recycling Tech Summit from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Society of Plastics Engineers Plastics Environmental Division's "Plastics Recycling in 2015" forum. Monday evening was marked by an opening reception, hosted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Tuesday and Wednesday brought a deep lineup of presentations and panel discussions on a range of trends and topics currently affecting plastics recovery. A dialogue between leading trade association executives, a deep look at the evolution of New York City's plastic recycling efforts and an analysis of the complex relationship between recycling and corporate sustainability served as some of the highlights.

The conference's trade show, which opened a day earlier than in years past, drew nearly 200 exhibitors taking advantage of the opportunity to meet face-to-face with current and future business prospects.

Patric Pike, regional sales manager for optical sorting machine manufacturer Satake USA, said he likes the way Plastics Recycling 2015 was tied in with events from industry trade associations, bringing together customers from every corner of the industry.

"We see tons of existing customers we’d [otherwise] have to drive and spend a lot of time to see,” Pike said.

This year, company representatives were able to talk with existing and potential customers about a smaller optical sorter for plastic flake, regrind and pellets.

“It’s a great place for releasing a new product,” Pike said.

While the conference officially wrapped up Wednesday afternoon with a heated discussion on the role of mixed-waste MRFs in the plastics recycling space, many attendees are staying on for today's Association of Plastic Recyclers' membership meetings and ISRI's Paper Stock Industries Specifications Summit.

The 11th Plastics Recycling Conference will be taking place in New Orleans next year. It's slated for Feb. 1-3, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency. Mark your calendars now, and check in at plasticsrecycling.com for all the latest on next year's gathering. Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities will be available starting in spring 2015.

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Trade association execs confront industry issues

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:57
Trade association execs confront industry issues

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

Recycling professionals, it's time for you to stick up for yourselves. That was the message from one key trade association leader during the opening session at Plastics Recycling 2015.

Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council's Plastic Department, made his rallying cry early in a 90-minute panel discussion between recycling association executives, held Tuesday morning.

After reading quotations from the New York Times and other media that voiced skepticism over the effectiveness of plastics recycling, Russell challenged the industry audience. "These are some patently false statements," he said. "But who has spoken up about it? We don't speak up enough."

The words certainly perked up many audience members recovering from long travels times and an unexpectedly icy Tuesday morning at Plastics Recycling 2015 in Dallas, and they helped set the tone for a dialogue in which Russell and the other association executives on stage did in fact speak up – on a number of issues.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' Steve Alexander, for instance, on several occasions noted that packaging producers and recycling observers attach unreasonable time frames to their demands for innovation from reclaimers and other recycling players.

He said finding solutions for new materials such as flexible film pouches will come as markets progress naturally. "Society wants a silver bullet, but we don't have a 24 hour turn on that," he said. "We're the good guys. We're trying to do the right things in plastic."

Another member of the panel, Kim Holmes of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, made the point that if the industry can find ways to collect more robust sets of data about specific resins that will be in demand, firms can feel more comfortable putting major financial commitments behind the research and development necessary to tackle challenging streams.

The notion was in line with Alexander's point that developing effective solutions for processing takes times and resources.

"What is the demand for recycled material now, and five years from now?" she said. "Getting that back to recyclers is important so they feel comfortable making investments."

Robin Wiener, who leads the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, added that in an industry where companies are increasingly heeding the call of customers to offer a variety of recycling services, no single material should be prioritized at the expense of another.

That strategy is becoming particularly relevant as the industry confronts the recent evolution of mixed waste processing, in which recyclables and trash are all tossed in one bin and separated at a tech-reliant facility.

Wiener indicated the need for cooperation extends beyond curbside, however.

"We need to talk across commodities," Wiener said. "When we talk about increasing volumes, the volumes will come from industrial scrap, electronic scrap and other more complex streams."

In several different contexts during the conversation, the executives noted that their collective voice is becoming more about cooperation than competition.

"The organizations and leading companies in various sectors have started to work together and we're seeing a real evolution in how trust is built," ACC's Russell said. "I think maybe we've turned an important corner."

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Port agreement reached after months of deadlock

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:54
Port agreement reached after months of deadlock

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

West Coast port workers have agreed to a new multi-year contract, ending more than nine months of contentious negotiations and, at least on paper, freeing up the flow of scrap recyclables for export.

While terms of the agreement have not been announced, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced on Feb. 20 a "tentative" five-year deal had been struck with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez stepped in earlier this month to push the two parties, who had been negotiating since May 2014, toward a resolution.

ILWU members will have to approve the new contract terms before the deal becomes official.

In response to the new deal, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) warned the labor stalemate might have "long-term consequences" for the recycling industry.

"Already facing a drop in prices, recyclers witnessed a decline in exports which left many forced to cut their workforce and set aside investments needed to grow their business," ISRI's president, Robin Wiener, said in a release. "There may still be long-term consequences we face such as lost overseas markets."

According to ISRI, exports from West Coast ports in 2014 were down 12 percent compared with 2013 levels, with the value of scrap exports worsening as the year went on.

"It's been hell," said Patty Moore, who runs the Plastic Recycling Corp. of California. She said buyers of material that would be bound for export began showing reservations six weeks ago as previously purchased material sat on the docks.

Over the last three weeks, the situation worsened. "Buyers just kind of gave up," Moore said, noting that the port dispute ultimately hurt the paper industry more than plastics because more recovered paper is sent overseas.

As negotiations continued into late October, PMA accused ILWU of staging "devastating slowdowns up and down the coast." ILWU denied those allegations.

In commenting on the resolution, Labor Secretary Perez suggested the U.S. economy as a whole will be able to recover from the port dispute.

"I think in the grand scheme, I'm confident that we can recover quickly," Perez said.

PRCC's Moore said that if the new agreement does in fact hold and material begins to move, it could take up to two months to clear the backlog of containers.

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ACC: Film recycling up, non-bottle rigid plastics flat in 2013

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:52
ACC: Film recycling up, non-bottle rigid plastics flat in 2013

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

Recovery of post-consumer film in 2013 rose to new heights, while China's Green Fence largely kept non-bottle rigid plastics at home, according to a pair of reports from the American Chemistry Council.

Released at the 2015 Plastics Recycling Conference in Dallas this week, ACC's seventh annual "National Postconsumer Plastics Bag & Film Recycling Report" points to an 11 percent increase in film recycling during 2013. The report was authored by Moore Recycling Associates.

"We are pleased to see such strong growth in the recycling of polyethylene wraps," Steve Russell, vice president of ACC's Plastics Department said in a release. "These increases highlight the critical role that grocers, retailers and other businesses play in collecting this valuable material."

All told, 1.14 billion pounds of film was reported recycled in 2013, with 58 percent sent abroad and the remaining 42 percent of that total sent to end users in the U.S. and Canada. While China's Green Fence "had a dramatic effect on the demand for contaminated film," the report states demand for higher value film "continued to see strong demand from both domestic and export buyers" in 2013.

Recycling of commercial clear film accounted for just about half of U.S. film recycling – 516 million pounds – and grew over 2012 levels by 10 percent. Recycling of commercial mixed color film also grew, reaching 236 million pounds (up 51 percent).

Mixed film recycling, a category that includes plastic carryout and grocery bags collected at retail and grocery locations, accounted for about a quarter of the overall recovery activity, reaching nearly 248 million pounds and increasing by 37 percent. Recycling of curbside film fell by 71 percent in 2013 and totaled just over 8 million pounds, the report states.

Nina Butler, managing director at Moore Recycling Associates, says more research needs to be done before assuming there's a correlation between increased mixed film recycling and falling curbside film recycling.

"Project plans are underway to study the impact of education on, not only the retail stream, but the curbside stream in two communities," Butler told Plastics Recycling Update. "While it's likely that instructing consumers to recycle their film packaging through retail programs is leading to less in the curbside stream, we need data to support such conclusions."

The Moore-conducted and authored "National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report," meanwhile, suggests China's crackdown on the quality of imported material kept non-bottle rigid recycling figures from growing.

According to the report, recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics fell by 1 percent in 2013, coming in at just over 1 billion pounds.

"The slight year-over-year decrease is most likely attributable to China's Green Fence effort," the report reads. Exports were down 25 percent for the year.

The silver lining, however, is that domestic reclamation continued to grow. In 2013, 67 percent of recycled non-bottle rigid plastics was purchased for use by the U.S. or Canada, compared with 57 percent in 2012 and just 37 percent in 2007, the first year ACC began publishing its annual report.

PP accounted for the most readily recycled resin in 2013. A total of 396 million pounds of non-bottle rigid PP was reported as recycled during the year. HDPE, with 357 million pounds recycled, and PET, with 85 million pounds recycled, were the second and third most recycled resins, respectively.

Moore points out estimates for film and non-bottle rigid plastics recycling represent "minimum" figures due to the voluntary nature of the group's annual data-gathering efforts. All told, 600 companies were contacted for each study, with 175 providing data.

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Data effort in Texas leads to recycling rate, plastics info

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:49
Data effort in Texas leads to recycling rate, plastics info

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

A data collecting initiative in Texas has arrived at a historically elusive figure: the Lone Star State's recycling rate. It's also led to some fresh data on plastics in Texas.

According to newly published results from the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI), the state recycled 18.9 percent of its municipal solid waste stream in 2013. Though the figure is below the national average recycling rate of roughly 34 percent, organizers say developing the number offers a starting point for future development.

"The material in our recycling bins is the next big resource boom for Texas," said Maia Corbitt, executive director of the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), one of the co-leaders of the effort.

A voluntary but expansive effort, TRDI, under the guidance of STAR and the Lone Star Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America, sought out statewide recycling data from processors and end users of materials. Attention was paid to ensure double-counting of data didn't inflate the numbers and the "rigorous and conservative" recycling rate was calculated without crediting reuse, source reduction or waste-to-energy activity.

According to the report, 6.1 million tons of municipal materials were recycled during the year, leaving 26.4 million tons going to landfill. A total of 169,216 tons of plastics were reported recycled.

To arrive at that number, TRDI crunched numbers it received from 36 facilities across the state, including 25 commercial MRFs and two plastics reclaimers. Eight reclaimers did not respond to the survey.

According to the report, most plastics flow through local and commercial MRFs in the state.

On the workforce side, the report found just under 12,700 Texans are employed by the industry either through direct, indirect or induced means.

The Georgia Recycling Coalition chronicled its own data-mining project in a feature-length article that is in the March 2015 issue of Resource Recycling magazine.

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ISRI adds plastics specs

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:47
ISRI adds plastics specs

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 26, 2015

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has added nine new plastics specs to its "Scraps Specifications Circular" document.

The additions were unveiled by ISRI during Plastics Recycling 2015 in Dallas.

"The nine new plastics specs were designed to give definition and clarity in the plastics film market," Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, said in the announcement. “As the market for recycled plastics film evolved, ISRI members recognized the need for our specification to reflect their needs and were the driving force behind their adoption."

The new specs are as follows:

  • Premium Film: This grade consists of 100 percent clean, clear, dry, post-industrial film consisting of LLDPE film or LDPE film;
  • A+ Grade Film: This grade consists of 99 percent clean, clear, dry, post-commercial and/or post-industrial film consisting of LLDPE pallet stretch film. May contain small amount of LDPE film;
  • A Grade Film: This grade consists of 95 percent clean, dry, clear, natural LDPE or LLDPE film. Any mix of post commercial or post-industrial film. Minimal amount of HDPE allowed;
  • B Grade Film: This grade consists of 80 percent clear, up to 20 percent color, clean, natural LDPE and/or LLDPE films. Any mix of post-commercial or post-industrial film is allowed. Minimal amounts HDPE or strapping allowed;
  • C Grade Film: This grade consists of 50 percent clear, 50 percent color, dry, LDPE or LLDPE films. Can be any mix of post-commercial or post-industrial film. HDPE or PP films are allowed;
  • MRF Film: Film collected and sorted at a MRF, typically generated from curbside collections consisting of HDPE grocery/retail bags, LDPE, or LLDPE films;
  • Grocery Film: Any mix of clean, dry, grocery, retail, packaging film or dry cleaner bags collected from store return programs. Bales may contain HDPE, LLDPE or LDPE films combined;
  • Agricultural Greenhouse Film: Films not used on the ground for agriculture or farming. Examples of which may be bale wrap, greenhouse films, dairy bags and bunker silo films which are polyethylene based; and
  • Agricultural Ground Cover Film: Any film collected after in field use. Examples of which may be mulch film and irrigation (drip) tubing which is polyethylene based.

ISRI's "Scraps Specifications Circular" is aimed at providing guidance for buyers of scrap materials. It can be viewed here.

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PetroChem Wire: Prime PET producers eye March rise, rPET Price Holds

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:42
PetroChem Wire: Prime PET producers eye March rise, rPET Price Holds

Feb. 26, 2015

Prime PET prices notched up during the third week in February, with spot business done at 57.5 to 58.5 cents per pound delivered Midwest. Prime PET producers announced an increase of as much as 4 cents per pound for March deliveries.

Recycled PET FDA sanctioned clear pellets, assessed FOB US East Coast, were holding at 68 to 69 cents per pound mid-month, at least a 10 cents per pound premium over prime material.

On the West Coast, the work slowdown at ports disrupted loadings of PET bales for export in recent weeks and drove PET bale prices lower. Southern California PET bale prices fell 0.5 to 1.0 cents per pound last week to 18.5 to 19.75 cents per pound FOB LA/Long Beach.

For a free trial to the Repro/Regrind Resin Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.

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NewsBits

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:39
NewsBits

Feb. 26, 2015

Voters in California will now decide the fate of the nation's first statewide plastic bag ban. After being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, the American Progressive Bag Alliance successfully gathered and qualified more than 500,000 signatures to suspend the law from going into effect later this year and include the issue on the November 2016 ballot. Supporters of the ban have expressed confidence that Californians will go ahead with the ban anyway.

The National Plastics Center has awarded the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) $200,000 to put toward its PlastiVan education effort. SPE's mobile program visits schools across North America to explain the chemistry behind plastics, the nuts and bolts behind making resin and the value and importance of sustainability for the industry.

Austrian equipment maker Erema has launched a sister company called Pure Loop. Erema says Pure Loop will "specialize exclusively in the recycling of clean production wastes using shredder/extruder technology."

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Scrap plastic exports continue to outpace 2013

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 17:03
Scrap plastic exports continue to outpace 2013

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

Exports of scrap plastics in November 2014 took a fall from October levels, but overall export levels were still up from 2013.

November, the most recent month for which figures are available, saw a steep 19.6 percent month-to-month drop from October 2014 export levels for scrap plastics, with 370.55 million pounds of the material exported. When matched against November 2013 levels (395.40 million pounds), the volume of plastic scrap exports was also down, by 6.3 percent.

The weighted price of recovered plastic exports in November, at 20.79 cents per pound, was up from October 2014 levels by 5.2 percent. When compared with its year-over-year (YOY) level, however, the price was down by 3.9 percent.

Year-to-date (YTD) figures for scrap plastics showed strong gains again with 4.43 billion pounds exported through November 2014, the volume of recovered plastics sent across U.S. borders was up 15.0 percent from its Green Fence-influenced YTD 2013 figure. At 19.84 cents per pound, however, the average price for the first 11 months of 2014 was down by 3.2 percent from its 2013 YTD standing.


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Judge makes ruling on additive case

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 17:01
Judge makes ruling on additive case

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

A federal judge has ruled that a plastic additive company sued by the Federal Trade Commission misled clients and customers but sufficiently corrected its marketing approach and materials by the end of 2013.

In issuing the Jan. 28 preliminary ruling, which can be appealed by both parties within 30 days, Judge D. Michael Chappell determined ECM BioFilms' claims that plastic products containing the company's additive would degrade within 9 months to 5 years were "false and unsubstantiated."

ECM used that time frame – and claims related to studies proving it – in various marketing materials up until the end of 2013. The FTC sued ECM in October 2013 and by December the company had discontinued referencing the timespan.

Judge Chappel is part of the FTC's Office of Administrative Law Judges, which is tasked with independently ruling on all FTC complaints. The plastics recycling industry keeps close tabs on the properties of different additives in plastic products because those additives can affect the recyclability of those items.

ECM, in responding to the ruling, argued the company has discontinued attaching timetables to its degradability claims and has no plans to use them going forward.

"We have long since discontinued making claims concerning estimated periods within which biodegradation may occur and have no intention of making such claims in the future," ECM wrote in response to the ruling.

According to ECM's website, plastics containing the company's additive are "recyclable, compostable, and/or biodegradable wherever they end up (as long as it’s not the frozen tundra, or somewhere else where nothing could biodegrade)."

The FTC had pursued a more stringent ruling against Ohio-based ECM but failed to convince the judge any claims of degradability required and implied "complete degradation" of a product within one year. ECM, court documents show, continued to market its additive as degradable "in some period greater than a year" after 2013, a practice that went against FTC's revised Green Guide.

As a result of its wrongdoing, ECM was ordered to "not represent, in any manner . . . that any product or package will completely biodegrade within any time period, or that tests prove such claims" unless scientific evidence proves such claims. The company will also be required to take part in a 20-year compliance and reporting provision.

Judge Chappell's further ruling – that FTC's counsel did not prove products marketed as degradable had to fully degrade within one year, as FTC's Green Guide argues – essentially allows ECM, and likely others, to continue marketing its additive as degradable.

Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), weighed in on the decision as it relates to the largely additive-wary plastics recycling industry.

"APR is interested in this matter as degradable additives create a risk of diminished performance properties over the service life for recycled plastic products until proven not to," Alexander said in a statement. "We have a test protocol to show no harm done and we have not seen any data from ECM BioFilms or others showing the protocol limits are met."

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Plastics Recycling 2015: Less than a week away

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:58
Plastics Recycling 2015: Less than a week away

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

With the 10th annual Plastics Recycling 2015 conference days away, the time is now to stop procrastinating and register.

Running next week in Dallas, the Plastics Recycling Conference is on pace for record attendance this year and will include an extensive lineup of events, presentations and networking opportunities. With representatives from companies in dozens of countries expected to be on hand, the conference offers a unique platform to connect with global members of the fast-evolving industry.

Plastics Recycling 2015 is taking place Feb. 23-25, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. Head to plasticsrecycling.com to register.

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California bottle deposit case settled for $1.8 million

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:55
California bottle deposit case settled for $1.8 million

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

An illegal beverage container redemption scheme landed one man in jail and yielded a $1.8 million settlement between a recycling center and the state of California, authorities said.

Under the settlement reached Feb. 11, Los Angeles-area business Action Sales and Metal must pay the state restitution and its owner, Bruce Falk, will be barred from participating in the state’s container redemption program, according to CalRecycle.

The move comes after investigations in 2012 by CalRecycle, the California Department of Justice and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department revealed that used cans and bottles originating in Arizona were being driven to Action Sales and Metal and illegally redeemed for deposits, according to CalRecycle.

"CalRecycle is dedicated to protecting the Beverage Container Recycling Fund and going after people who steal from the program," Caroll Mortensen, CalRecycle director, stated in a press release. "These are public funds – they are owed to consumers who pay (California Redemption Value) when they buy beverages and then return the containers for recycling. We will vigorously pursue these investigations, and we won’t back down until perpetrators are held accountable for their actions."

In May 2014, a jury found the company guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime, grand theft of personal property and recycling fraud. As part of the Feb. 11 settlement with the company, charges against Falk were dropped.

Another man involved in the case, Marcos Vega, who led a group that imported containers from Arizona for redemption, pleaded guilty to illegal refund claims and was sentenced to 90 days custody, three years’ probation and $15,000 in restitution, according to CalRecycle.

California’s bottle bill includes a five-cent deposit for containers less than 24 ounces and a 10-cent deposit for larger ones. Arizona has no container deposit redemption program.


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Marine debris study estimates coastal dumping

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:53
Marine debris study estimates coastal dumping

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

According to a new study, as much as 14 million tons of plastic found itself in the ocean during 2010.

The study, published by a team of researchers in the U.S. and Australia and the subject of a story in The Wall Street Journal, suggests between 5.3 and 14 million tons of plastic generated by coastal populations worldwide became marine debris in 2010. During the year, those same coastal population generated more than 300 million tons of plastic. [Calculations for the study were made using metric tons. For the purposes of this article, we have converted all metric units to short units.]

Those calculations outstrip past numbers by a wide margin. The most recent and complete study on marine debris suggested a minimum of 269,000 tons of plastic could be found in the ocean.

While China and Indonesia were pegged as the leading sources of marine debris in the new study, the U.S. ranked 20th among coastal populations. The U.S., researchers say, accounted for just below 1 percent of "mismanaged plastics waste" in 2010.

Researchers fear the amount of plastics currently floating in oceans could double by 2025.

Plastics interests were quick to respond to the study and reaffirm pledges to fight against marine debris.

"Ocean litter is a global problem that threatens our health, our marine wildlife and the livelihoods of millions who depend on a healthy ocean," William Carteaux, president of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, said in a statement. "SPI and other plastics industry trade associations are working to combat these problems, both by taking actions to stop plastic materials from entering the marine environment and by promoting a change in attitudes to prevent the waste of plastic materials."

The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) also spoke out on the issue.

“The global dimensions of marine debris are creating opportunities for world leaders, NGOs, and the private sector to work together, and America’s plastics makers will continue to partner with these and other stakeholders to develop solutions for a cleaner ocean," ACC's Steve Russell said in a statement.

Both ACC and SPI are signatories to the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, an effort launched in 2011 to spur action among global plastics trade groups to limit marine debris.

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Pilot program targets tricky plastics packaging

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:50
Pilot program targets tricky plastics packaging

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 19, 2015

A pilot program to convert non-recyclable plastic packaging into energy has resulted in 6,000 pounds worth of fuel feedstock. That material, program organizers say, would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Between June and August 2014, residents of Citrus Heights, California were provided with purple "Energy Bags" to fill with non-recyclable plastic packaging, including pouches and candy wrappers. Waste and recycling hauler Republic Services collected the material curbside every two weeks.

Approximately 30 percent of the population participated at some point during the June-August stretch, leading to 6,000 pounds of material collected. It was converted into 512 gallons of fuel by plastics-to-oil company Agilyx.

"This is an important milestone toward advancing change in the way we handle waste in the U.S.," said Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader at program co-sponsor Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. "This pilot proved that resource recovery of non-recycled plastics is a viable municipal process. Our collaborative efforts brought us one step closer to reducing plastic waste by converting it to energy."

The City of Citrus Heights, Republic, Agilyx and Dow were also joined by the Flexible Packaging Association and Reynolds Consumer Products for the project.

Dow has also released an 18-minute video detailing the pilot project. It can be viewed here.


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NewsBits

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:47
NewsBits

Feb. 19, 2015

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) estimates plastics recycling has turned into an $860 million annual industry. ISRI's 2014 annual report, which can be viewed here, suggests the overall U.S. scrap industry is valued at $87 billion per year.

Waste Management's 2014 Sustainability Report indicates plastics continues to be near the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to processing tonnages. According to the report, the nation's largest waste and recycling firm in 2013 processed about 432,000 tons of plastics, equivalent to 3 percent of the company's overall processing total (15 million tons).

Paperboard packaging company Iggesund is using an innovative method for finding new packaging designs: crowdsourcing. The company has created a project on the site crowdSPRING and has asked designers to come up with three concepts for new paperboard packaging to replace other materials currently being used. The company doesn’t plan to buy rights or mass produce anything based on the ideas; instead, it wants to publicly highlight the need for more sustainable packaging.

New York State will require retailers to accept a wider variety of flexible films for recycling, starting March 1. A recent amendment to existing legislation requires retailers to begin accepting newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags and shrink-wrap for recycling. Under the Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act, which has been in effect since 2009, retailers were already required to accept grocery bags.

Remember to sort your plastics and glass before dumping them into the oceans, reports one national publication. Sounds like a joke? It is. The Onion has published this satirical article about keeping your sources of pollution separate. Apparently, littering hasn’t gone single-stream yet.

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West Coast port dispute slows movement of bales

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 08:14
West Coast port dispute slows movement of bales

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 11, 2015

Contract negotiations between West Coast dock workers and their employers have appeared to hit a boiling point, leaving plastic recyclables in need of export stuck in ports – and potentially bound for landfills.

Since May 2014, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been attempting to reach a long-term contract. Those negotiations continued into late October, and at that point ILWU "began to stage devastating slowdowns up and down the coast," PMA alleges. The dispute has caused major delays in overseas cargo shipments, including those carrying recycled materials.

Scott Horne, vice president of government affairs at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), told Resource Recycling the dispute is hurting recycling-related business that are already battling a tough economic climate.

"With falling commodity prices, recyclers are already having a tough enough time," Horne said. "The ports slowdown is now an additional obstacle to markets that do exist. ... A complete shutdown would have a crippling effect on the industry and cost American jobs."

Horne said scrap is the top export by volume out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and roughly $9.4 billion in scrap passes out of West Coast ports every year.

To help push action on the situation, the West Coast Refuse and Recycling Coalition, representing California, Oregon and Washington recycling businesses and waste haulers, sent out a letter to members Jan. 30.

"Without immediate relief," the coalition wrote, "we may soon be forced to begin redirecting this material to extended storage and disposal, undermining the very goal of our material management operations."

Signs of the dispute's impact on recycling operations have also been seen on a number of other fronts.

San Francisco's KTVU News recently reported waste and recycling company Recology is quickly amassing stocks of cardboard and paper awaiting export to Asian paper mills. The California Refuse Recycling Council has sent a letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown, urging action on the dispute. And Keith Ristau, president of Far West Recycling, told Resource Recycling the Oregon-based company was sitting on 7,200 tons of material "all due to the slowdown." That wait may grow longer, as on Monday afternoon, Hanjin, Portland's largest container shipping service, notified port operators, that it will no longer use the Port of Portland, instead servicing its customers via rail from Seattle.

In the latest development on negotiations, PMA suspended vessel operations over the weekend, stating in a press release that "PMA member companies finally have concluded that they will no longer continue to pay workers premium pay for diminished productivity." Ports were reopened Monday, but no agreement between the two sides has been reached.

PMA announced Feb. 4 a new contract offer to ILWU "goes as far as we believe we can go." According to an accompanying video message from PMA's president Jim McKenna, the offer raises the annual average salary of full-time ILWU workers to more than $160,000 (from $147,000) and raises the maximum pension to nearly $89,000 (from $80,000). The five-year offer also constinues to provide health insurance at no cost to ILWU employees.

“I hope the ILWU leadership will give very serious consideration to this contract offer, which I believe respects their members and gives us a clear path to conclude these talks," McKenna said during a conference call with reporters last week. "We owe it to workers and businesses across the nation to resolve our differences and get our ports moving again.”

ILWU's president, Robert McEllrath, meanwhile, issued a strongly worded retort to McKenna's characterization that West Coast ports could be headed for collapse, and he called on workers to "stay at the negotiating table and work through a few remaining issues."

Craig Merrilees, ILWU's communications director, told Resource Recycling on Friday that "only a few outstanding issues remain" and stated the two parties "are very, very close" to an agreement.

While Merrilees would not divulge specific issues in need of resolution before an agreement can be met, he said they can be "easily resolved." He added, "We just need to get it done."

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Plastics Recycling 2015: Just two weeks away

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 08:09
Just two weeks away

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 11, 2015

The biggest annual gathering of North American plastics recycling professionals kicks off Feb. 23. Will your company be represented?

Plastics Recycling 2015 is shaping up to be the largest iteration yet of the Plastics Recycling Conference. Nearly 200 firms and groups will be exhibiting in the trade show hall, and more than 1,700 attendees are expected to be on hand to deepen their pool of industry contacts and better understand the trends shaping plastics recovery now and in the future. Register today to be sure you are part of these crucial conversations.

Plastics Recycling 2015 is taking place Feb. 23-25, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. Head to plasticsrecycling.com to register.

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Report examines Europe’s plastic production, diversion

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 08:06
Report examines Europe’s plastic production, diversion

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 11, 2015

If current trends continue, Europe could divert 100 percent of its plastics for recycling or energy recovery by 2037.

That’s according to a report from the PlasticsEurope Association of Plastics Manufacturers and the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations.

From 2006 to 2012, plastic material going to landfill in Europe decreased from 14.22 million tons to 10.58 million tons, a drop of nearly 26 percent. In that time, the amount recycled jumped from 5.18 million tons to 7.28 million tons, a 41 percent increase. The amount burned for energy increased from 7.72 million tons to 9.81 million tons, a 27 percent increase.

In 2012, about 62 percent of all post-consumer plastics in Europe were diverted to recycling or waste-to-energy facilities, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the report predicts a steady, but not dramatic, increase in European plastics productions. In 2014, production was projected to increase 1.5 percent over 2013 levels. In 2015, it is expected to increase 1 percent over 2014 levels.

“Still, the European plastics production remains far from pre-crisis levels,” according to a PlasticsEurope press release.


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Plastic container recycling access hits high in Canada

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 08:02
Plastic container recycling access hits high in Canada

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 11, 2015

A plastics trade group in Canada says access to recycling plastic containers is at an all-time high despite continued struggles with non-container packaging.

"One of the key factors influencing recycling rates in Canada is whether people have access to recycling programs," the report from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) reads. "As extended producer responsibility schemes proliferate across the country, it is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers and retailers of packaged food and consumer goods to know what percentage of Canadians have access to recycling programs for the packaging they place on the market."

And according to CPIA, containers made from PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP can be collected for recycling by at least 90 percent of the population in Canada, while containers made from PVC and "other" plastics have access rates between 82 and 86 percent.

In fact, the only container type with a sub-80 percent access rate are those made from rigid polystyrene. CPIA says those items can be diverted for recycling by just 63 percent of the population.

The group defined access as the availability of "residential curbside recycling programs, municipal drop-off recycling depots, deposit-return programs for beverage containers or return to-retail (for empty beverage containers only)."

While offering some encouraging access numbers, the research also points to challenges on the non-container side.

"Not all types of plastics are accepted in municipal recycling programs," the report continues. "In Canada, many programs limit the types of plastic they accept to plastic containers, leaving other plastic items to be tossed into the trash."

While 74 percent of the population was found to have access to horticultural rigid plastic recycling, just over half (56 percent) of Canadians have access to film and bag recycling.

Roughly two-thirds of the population (67 percent) has access to retail bag recycling and tubs and lids (66 percent). About one-third can recycle foam food packaging (34 percent) and foam protective packaging (36 percent).

No one in Canada, CPIA found, is able to divert plastic laminate, or flexible film packaging.

The report also includes a full breakdown of access numbers for containers and non-containers by province.

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PetroChem Wire: HDPE scrap prices slip

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 07:54
PetroChem Wire: HDPE scrap prices slip

Feb. 11, 2015

Natural dairy scrap bale prices fell as much as a nickel in early February, with business reported as low as 25 cents per pound GOB U.S. East Coast.

Supply has accumulated in scrap yards and MRF locations throughout the eastern U.S. and Midwest as cold weather slows down pick-ups, processing and deliveries. HDPE mixed-color scrap bales have also weakened, though not as much, with recent business done at 18 to 20 cents per pound FOB U.S. East Coast.

Recycled and prime HDPE prices have also weakened. HDPE frac melt dairy pellets have fallen from 70 to 75 cents per pounds FOB U.S. East Coast at the end of January to 68 to 70 cents per pound the first week in February. Prime blow molding HDPE was at 66.5 cents per pound at the end of January and 64.5 cents per pound on Feb. 6.

For a free trial to the Repro/Regrind Resin Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.

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