North American reclaimers boosted recycling of PET thermoforms last year, despite difficulties the packaging has in the way of look-alike resins, contamination and labels.
That’s according to a newly released annual report from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). Each year, the industry groups survey the PET recycling environment.
While the report focused on PET bottle recycling, it also discussed recycling of thermoforms, which are less commonly recycled. With thermoforms, reclaimers face issues of packaging not made of PET but composed of lookalike resins, including OPS, PVC, PETG and PLA. Some thermoforms also contain labels, inks and adhesives that can inhibit downstream recycling.
The U.K.-based nonprofit group Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently released the results of trials in Europe aimed at optimising the sorting and processing of PET thermoforms.
Overall, the weight of thermoforms collected for recycling in the U.S. and Canada dropped to 88.5 million pounds last year, down from 100 million pounds in 2014. The decrease was primarily attributed to a drop in thermoforms exported for recycling. The weight recycled in the U.S. and Canada combined increased slightly.
That increase “illustrates that the work of NAPCOR and its partners to work through technical concerns to develop this promising new source of supply continues to reap benefits.”