Plastics processing in Republic's Las Vegas recycling facility.

News of Republic Services’ moves to vertically integrate in plastics was of interest to readers in 2022. | Courtesy of Republic Services

Examining the trends that pushed and pulled on the industry over the past year can help provide insight into the 12 months yet to come.

Below are our 10 most-read stories from 2022 (organized in descending order, with the most-read article in the No. 1 position at the bottom). It’s clear readers were drawn to coverage of the ongoing debate over the recyclability of plastics, as well as labeling standards and legal disputes.

10 | ExxonMobil explains its plans to scale up chemical recycling
OCTOBER 11: A sustainability executive at ExxonMobil recently laid out details on the energy giant’s multifaceted strategy around chemical recycling, and it’s clear hopes are high.

9 | Industry responds to Greenpeace attack
OCTOBER 25: A new report from Greenpeace USA asserts no plastics in the U.S. meet the definition of recyclable. The head of one plastics group countered the analysis “could actually cause greater environmental harm.”

8 | How2Recycle returns PP to ‘widely recycled’ level
JULY 28: Two years after downgrading rigid polypropylene containers to “check locally,” a label system has returned the material to its previous status, determining at least 60% of the country has access to PP collection.

7 | Driscoll’s (and its suppliers) propel thermoform recycling
JULY 13: A leader at a well-known berry brand explains how the company has used its buying power to boost the recycling of PET clamshells.

6 | Prices collapse for post-consumer plastics
AUGUST 9: August brought precipitous drops in pricing for PET, color HDPE and polypropylene bales.

5 | Groups react to ‘problematic’ plastics list
JANUARY 25: The U.S. Plastics Pact says PS and PVC packaging and other materials should be phased out in coming years. A curbside recycling operator called the potential elimination of PVC and PS packaging “two really big steps in the right direction,” though several groups criticized the Pact’s work.

4 | Republic Services moves to vertically integrate in plastics
MARCH 1: North America’s second-largest hauler and recycling processor is constructing a facility in Las Vegas that will produce recycled PET flake and provide a deeper sort of recovered olefins.

3 | Editor’s Take: The problem with the Greenpeace data
NOVEMBER 2: One of the country’s most notorious environmental groups says no plastics should be considered recyclable. But our editor says the numbers behind that assertion don’t add up.

2 | Aquafil closing its new California carpet recycling plant
MAY 25: Shortly after opening its Northern California carpet recycling plant, Aquafil is working to close the facility and consolidate processing equipment elsewhere.

1 | Keurig agrees to $10 million settlement, recycling disclaimer
MARCH 2: Keurig Green Mountain reached a class-action settlement with a consumer who sued over coffee pod recyclability claims, agreeing to pay $10 million and add language indicating the plastic cups are “not recycled in many communities.”

Plastics Recycling Conference - March 6-8, 2023