Plastics Recycling Update

Plastic and packaging producers provide PCR data

LyondellBasell announced progress on its production of recycled polymers, and Sonoco announced it used 10% recycled content in its plastic packaging last year. | Madam F/Shutterstock

Two major companies, plastics producer LyondellBasell and packaging manufacturer Sonoco, recently published sustainability reports. The following are their plastics recycling takeaways. 

Plastics producer progress

LyondellBasell published a sustainability report that notes it has produced 175,000 metric tons of recycled and “renewable-based” polymers since 2019. 

A press release describes the 175,000 metric tons as “progress toward the company’s commitment to produce and market at least 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers annually by 2030,” but LyondellBasell’s sustainability reports don’t specify how much recycled resin the company is producing each year, making it impossible to gauge the how much progress it has made toward the goal in recent years.

The company sells its recycled and renewable-based plastics under the Circulen brand. 

The release noted that, in 2022, LyondellBasell announced four new plastics recycling projects and ventures to grow the company’s mechanical recycling footprint. 

Additionally, LyondellBasell on April 29 reached a deal to buy out Veolia’s 50% ownership in the Quality Circular Polymers (QCP) joint venture in Belgium and the Netherlands. Waste management company Veolia will remain a feedstock supplier to QCP, which has the capacity to recycle 55,000 metric tons of plastic a year. 

Sonoco averages 7% post-consumer resin

Packaging and industrial products manufacturer Sonoco published a sustainability report that touched on its use of recycled resin. 

The company averaged 10% recycled content in its plastic packaging in 2022, the document notes. Of that, 7 percentage points were attributable to post-consumer content and 3 percentage points to post-industrial plastic. 

Sonoco is primarily a paper- and metal-based packaging and industrial products company, but it also makes rigid and flexible plastic packaging, including RPET trays. The 2022 report notes that Sonoco worked with Nestlé to redesign its black single-serve PET trays used for TV dinners to make them unpigmented. The change allows near-infrared sorters at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to see and properly sort them. 

The change will also allow the scrap material to be recycled into a wider range of products than carbon black plastic permits, the report states. 

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