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Author Archives: Colin Staub

About Colin Staub

Colin-StaubColin Staub is a reporter at Resource Recycling. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Oregon deposit system estimates 90.5% return rate

Published: April 17, 2024
Updated:

by

Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative redeemed 2.09 billion containers in 2023, up from 2.05 billion containers in 2022. | Dan Leif/Resource Recycling

An Oregon beverage stewardship group that manages the oldest container deposit program in the country reported a preliminary 2023 redemption rate of 90.5%, the first time the program has topped 90% since 2019.

Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

KW Plastics gearing up to launch another wash line

Published: April 10, 2024
Updated:

by
View of KW Plastics' new wash line for PP recycling

KW Plastics plans to bring an additional 100 million pounds per year of olefin recycling capacity online in the next few months. | Courtesy of KW Plastics

There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy about recycled resin markets these days. But one of the largest plastics reclaimers in the U.S. is staying focused on a course of expansion, and it’s getting ready to start up an additional 100 million pounds per year of olefin recycling capacity. Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged , |

Less plastic recovered in 2022, but more stayed domestic

Published: April 3, 2024
Updated:

by
Plastic waste pile

A drop in overall plastics collection contributed to a decline in the annual bottle recycling rate, which decreased to 27.8% in 2022. | Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock

Just over 5 billion pounds of post-consumer plastic was recovered for recycling in 2022, an annual industry report found, marking a decrease from the prior year. One trade association pointed to macroeconomic factors like inflation as driving the lower recovery. Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

RPET imports driving ‘perfect storm’ for reclaimers

Published: March 26, 2024
Updated:

by
PET bale for recycling.

In January 2024, the U.S. imported 52.5 million pounds of scrap PET, over double the amount imported into the country in January 2023. | MarieKaz/Shutterstock

Scrap PET imports reached an all-time single-month record high in January, coming on the heels of a year that brought record-high imports of the post-consumer resin.  Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories |

Report takes aim at drop-off recycling system

Published: March 20, 2024
Updated:

by
Amazon Prime plastic bubble shipping mailer.

A new study placed Apple AirTag and Android Tile tracking devices in 93 bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging and tracked where the material ended up. | Oasisamuel/Shutterstock

An investigation that placed tracking devices in bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging and dropped them off in store collection receptacles around the U.S. found a “failing” drop-off collection system, its authors said. Amazon said it can’t control how material is handled once it enters the recycling system.

The Amazon-focused report, released March 19 and authored by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Environment America, is titled “Truth in Recycling: Does Amazon’s plastic packaging actually get recycled?”

Although it takes aim at Amazon’s plastic packaging materials, the U.S. PIRG report is more of an indictment of the plastic film drop-off system in the U.S. It comes on the heels of a similar investigation by ABC News last year, and it comes shortly after the leading directory listing drop-off locations for plastic materials was taken down last year due to funding and concerns about its accuracy.

In the latest report, the authors placed Apple AirTag and Android Tile tracking devices in 93 bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging, including bags and air pillows, and placed them in store drop-off collection locations. Then they tracked where the material ended up.

Of the 93 tracked bundles, 24 ended up at major PE recycling company Trex, 19 went to store distribution centers, 13 ended up in landfills, 13 never left the store they were dropped off at, eight went to transfer stations or “near multiple disposal sites,” four went to MRFs or other sorting facilities, four died in transit, three made it to a port, two went to an incinerator, and one each went to a composting facility, auto dealer and small freight firm.

“The store drop-off system for recycling plastic film is failing,” the authors wrote, adding it provides evidence contradicting Amazon’s claims about packaging recyclability.

“No matter how much Amazon and others say its packaging is ‘recyclable,’ the truth is that plastic never has been widely recycled and likely never will be,” the report states. “The better approach to plastic packaging is to stop producing and using it.”

In a statement to Plastics Recycling Update, Pat Lindner, Amazon’s vice president of sustainable packaging, pointed to the company’s work with The Recycling Partnership and other projects to improve recycling infrastructure.

“Amazon is continuously reducing packaging waste and working to make recycling easier for customers, however, we do not have control over how packaging is handled once it has been disposed of by municipalities or recycling centers,” Lindner said.

Although the largest portion ended up at Trex, the report considers material that ended up at Trex in the same category as material that was landfilled or incinerated. The report acknowledges there are “some positives to Trex’s products,” but it also criticizes Trex as a “downcycler” for using the plastic in decking materials rather than putting it back into packaging. 

It also casts doubt on how much of the post-consumer plastic film dropped off in stores, a major collection source Trex has built up as its NexTrex program, makes it into Trex products due to contamination. Trex uses both post-consumer material and cleaner film from commercial sources like warehouses and back-of-house retail locations.

The report indicates it’s unclear what happened to the 19 bundles that were tracked to store distribution centers or warehouses. “It is possible that the trackers died before the plastic was transferred from the distribution center to a recycler, landfill, Trex, or that the plastic could simply be sitting there with no place to go,” the authors wrote.

The sorting facilities that received four of the tracked bundles were K&S Recycling in Vancouver, Washington, which received two tracked loads from New Seasons grocery stores in Portland, Oregon; Independent Recycling Services of Chicago, which received a tracked load from Tony’s Fresh Market in Chicago; and Polyfit in Tecate, Mexico, a plastics reclaimer that received material from a Sprouts store in Culver City, California. 

The report’s authors contacted the two MRFs, which confirmed they didn’t accept plastic film – few U.S. MRFs do – and they couldn’t reach the reclaimer in Mexico.

More stories about research

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

Oregon deposit system estimates 90.5% return rate

Published: April 17, 2024
Updated:

by

Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative redeemed 2.09 billion containers in 2023, up from 2.05 billion containers in 2022. | Dan Leif/Resource Recycling

An Oregon beverage stewardship group that manages the oldest container deposit program in the country reported a preliminary 2023 redemption rate of 90.5%, the first time the program has topped 90% since 2019.

Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

KW Plastics gearing up to launch another wash line

Published: April 10, 2024
Updated:

by
View of KW Plastics' new wash line for PP recycling

KW Plastics plans to bring an additional 100 million pounds per year of olefin recycling capacity online in the next few months. | Courtesy of KW Plastics

There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy about recycled resin markets these days. But one of the largest plastics reclaimers in the U.S. is staying focused on a course of expansion, and it’s getting ready to start up an additional 100 million pounds per year of olefin recycling capacity. Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged , |

Less plastic recovered in 2022, but more stayed domestic

Published: April 3, 2024
Updated:

by
Plastic waste pile

A drop in overall plastics collection contributed to a decline in the annual bottle recycling rate, which decreased to 27.8% in 2022. | Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock

Just over 5 billion pounds of post-consumer plastic was recovered for recycling in 2022, an annual industry report found, marking a decrease from the prior year. One trade association pointed to macroeconomic factors like inflation as driving the lower recovery. Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

RPET imports driving ‘perfect storm’ for reclaimers

Published: March 26, 2024
Updated:

by
PET bale for recycling.

In January 2024, the U.S. imported 52.5 million pounds of scrap PET, over double the amount imported into the country in January 2023. | MarieKaz/Shutterstock

Scrap PET imports reached an all-time single-month record high in January, coming on the heels of a year that brought record-high imports of the post-consumer resin.  Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories |

Limited PCR supply a ‘key constraint’ for end users

Published: March 20, 2024
Updated:

by
Plastic resin on a white background.

Companies that have voluntarily signed on with the U.S. Plastics Pact used 9.4% post-consumer recycled resin in 2022, up from 8% the prior year. | Saravutpics/Shutterstock

Companies producing a third of all plastic packaging by weight in the U.S. used 9.4% post-consumer recycled resin in 2022, up from 8% the prior year, the U.S. Plastics Pact recently reported. Continue Reading

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged |

Report takes aim at drop-off recycling system

Published: March 20, 2024
Updated:

by
Amazon Prime plastic bubble shipping mailer.

A new study placed Apple AirTag and Android Tile tracking devices in 93 bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging and tracked where the material ended up. | Oasisamuel/Shutterstock

An investigation that placed tracking devices in bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging and dropped them off in store collection receptacles around the U.S. found a “failing” drop-off collection system, its authors said. Amazon said it can’t control how material is handled once it enters the recycling system.

The Amazon-focused report, released March 19 and authored by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Environment America, is titled “Truth in Recycling: Does Amazon’s plastic packaging actually get recycled?”

Although it takes aim at Amazon’s plastic packaging materials, the U.S. PIRG report is more of an indictment of the plastic film drop-off system in the U.S. It comes on the heels of a similar investigation by ABC News last year, and it comes shortly after the leading directory listing drop-off locations for plastic materials was taken down last year due to funding and concerns about its accuracy.

In the latest report, the authors placed Apple AirTag and Android Tile tracking devices in 93 bundles of Amazon’s plastic packaging, including bags and air pillows, and placed them in store drop-off collection locations. Then they tracked where the material ended up.

Of the 93 tracked bundles, 24 ended up at major PE recycling company Trex, 19 went to store distribution centers, 13 ended up in landfills, 13 never left the store they were dropped off at, eight went to transfer stations or “near multiple disposal sites,” four went to MRFs or other sorting facilities, four died in transit, three made it to a port, two went to an incinerator, and one each went to a composting facility, auto dealer and small freight firm.

“The store drop-off system for recycling plastic film is failing,” the authors wrote, adding it provides evidence contradicting Amazon’s claims about packaging recyclability.

“No matter how much Amazon and others say its packaging is ‘recyclable,’ the truth is that plastic never has been widely recycled and likely never will be,” the report states. “The better approach to plastic packaging is to stop producing and using it.”

In a statement to Plastics Recycling Update, Pat Lindner, Amazon’s vice president of sustainable packaging, pointed to the company’s work with The Recycling Partnership and other projects to improve recycling infrastructure.

“Amazon is continuously reducing packaging waste and working to make recycling easier for customers, however, we do not have control over how packaging is handled once it has been disposed of by municipalities or recycling centers,” Lindner said.

Although the largest portion ended up at Trex, the report considers material that ended up at Trex in the same category as material that was landfilled or incinerated. The report acknowledges there are “some positives to Trex’s products,” but it also criticizes Trex as a “downcycler” for using the plastic in decking materials rather than putting it back into packaging. 

It also casts doubt on how much of the post-consumer plastic film dropped off in stores, a major collection source Trex has built up as its NexTrex program, makes it into Trex products due to contamination. Trex uses both post-consumer material and cleaner film from commercial sources like warehouses and back-of-house retail locations.

The report indicates it’s unclear what happened to the 19 bundles that were tracked to store distribution centers or warehouses. “It is possible that the trackers died before the plastic was transferred from the distribution center to a recycler, landfill, Trex, or that the plastic could simply be sitting there with no place to go,” the authors wrote.

The sorting facilities that received four of the tracked bundles were K&S Recycling in Vancouver, Washington, which received two tracked loads from New Seasons grocery stores in Portland, Oregon; Independent Recycling Services of Chicago, which received a tracked load from Tony’s Fresh Market in Chicago; and Polyfit in Tecate, Mexico, a plastics reclaimer that received material from a Sprouts store in Culver City, California. 

The report’s authors contacted the two MRFs, which confirmed they didn’t accept plastic film – few U.S. MRFs do – and they couldn’t reach the reclaimer in Mexico.

More stories about research

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged , |

Glacier’s MRF robots attracting funding

Published: March 13, 2024
Updated:

by

Robotics from Glacier can be made to fit any belt width and can target more than 30 distinct materials. | Courtesy of Glacier

The co-founders of emerging sortation robotics supplier Glacier say their robots provide an immediate quality benefit with a small footprint: They can be placed anywhere a manual sorter would be stationed. Continue Reading

Posted in News |

Diverse coalition pushes for national deposit system

Published: March 13, 2024
Updated:

by
PET bottles for recycling.

Alpek Polyester and BlueTriton Brands joined a lobbying effort to advocate for a national bottle bill. | New Africa/Shutterstock

Resin giants recently joined environmental groups in the nation’s Capitol to advocate for a national bottle bill, a coordinated push organized by the National Stewardship Action Council. Continue Reading

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How sorting upgrades made a contaminant a product

Published: March 6, 2024
Updated:

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Rumpke’s new Columbus, Ohio MRF is key to a partnership with Eastman Chemical that will create an end market for opaque PET materials, among other hard-to-recycle products. | Courtesy of Rumpke

A partnership between midwest recycling processor Rumpke and resin giant Eastman Chemical will create an end market for opaque and otherwise hard-to-recycle PET materials, driven by state-of-the-art sortation capabilities at Rumpke’s Columbus, Ohio MRF.

Continue Reading

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