Plastics Recycling Update

Our top 10 stories from 2020

Sabic logo on website, seen through magnifying glass.

Details on chemical recycling ventures from virgin plastics producers, including SABIC, drew attention last year. | Casimiro PT/Shutterstock

The past 12 months certainly gave plastics recycling stakeholders plenty to chew on – and the action extended beyond just the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During 2020, the industry saw significant movement by brand owners and prime plastic producers trying to position themselves more effectively in the world of plastics recovery. Processors also took notable steps forward with advancements in technology. And of course, stakeholders experienced plenty of market volatility.

The list below shows the 10 most-read Plastics Recycling Update online stories of 2020, in terms of unique page views. The most-viewed story is listed in the number 1 slot at the bottom, so be sure to scroll all the way through.

10 | Mixed trends for plastic pricing
MAY 13: In late spring, natural HDPE inched up (part of a record-setting price boost for the resin), but most other post-consumer plastic grades were trading for lower prices.

9 | California reinstates bag ban and PCR requirements
JUNE 24: After being put on hold due to COVID-19, a single-use plastic bag ban and reusable bag recycled-content mandate went back in force in California in early summer.

8 | Avangard to supply Dow with PCR pellets
JAN. 15: At the start of 2020, Dow signed a deal to buy recycled polyethylene pellets from Avangard Innovative, allowing the petrochemical giant to provide recycled-content plastic to North American customers for the first time.

7 | PreZero starts up California film recycling operation
JULY 1: A company focused on taking in hard-to-recycle plastics began operating its first location in the middle of the year.

6 | Group blasts brand owners over plastic pollution
JUNE 17: Environmental organization As You Sow said the largest consumer-facing companies were falling short in the area of plastic pollution reduction, and it called for them to support recycling, among other steps.

5 | Low virgin plastics pricing pinches recycling market further
MAY 6: By mid-spring, the coronavirus pandemic had piled on top of existing market strife to cause pricing fluctuations and create uncertainty about how end users would meet their sustainability commitments.

4 | Key curbside plastics no longer ‘widely’ recyclable
FEB. 5: Changes in U.S. recycling programs led the How2Recycle labeling initiative to downgrade recyclability classifications for non-bottle rigid PET containers and certain PP products, potentially impacting recovery of those materials.

3 | How an advanced line will recycle PET thermoforms
APRIL 6: Green Impact Plastics, a Mexican company building a $7 million facility in Southern California, installed optimized machinery to overcome challenges that have hampered thermoform processing.

2 | End users boost their recycled-plastic purchases
NOV. 4: This fall, Keurig Dr Pepper, Unilever and other global giants announced their intentions to bolster the use of PCR.

1 | Plastics producers tout pyrolysis achievements
OCT. 1: Announcements related to chemical recycling were made throughout 2020, and in early autumn three big names – Chevron Phillips Chemical, SABIC and BASF – offered updates on their ventures. Clearly, the plastics recycling industry was watching closely.

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