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Data sort: What’s at stake beyond PET and HDPE bottles

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Most West Coast materials recovery facilities (MRFs) are not equipped to sort plastics beyond PET and HDPE bottles. This material is often referred to as 3-7, but it includes small rigid plastic of all resins, as well as missed PET and HDPE bottles. It is this mix that is struggling to find a market in the wake of National Sword. Though the 3-7 bottle and small rigid category makes up just 15 percent of all plastics collected, it carries significant economic implications.

Polypropylene (PP) is the largest component of these bales. Taking California as the West Coast example, not recycling PP translates to at least $4 million in lost revenue (based on current scrap pricing), about $2 million in incurred landfill costs, and lost CO2 reduction savings equivalent to the emissions of nearly 5,000 cars on the road every year.

The charts below are estimates based on More Recycling’s expertise and industry knowledge and from data that’s been compiled from a variety of industry studies supported by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), among other organizations. Check out other key data sets and tools supported by APR and ACC at PlasticsMarkets.org and RecycleMorePlastics.org.

Summer 2018 Data Sort chart.Data Sort is produced each quarter by More Recycling. For additional information, go to morerecycling.com.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Plastics Recycling Update. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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Data sort: Takeaways on non-bottle rigids

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The graphs below show findings from the “2016 National Post-Consumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report,” which was released earlier this year. U.S. and Canadian buyers reported a marginal increase in non-bottle rigid plastic acquired from purchasing of mixed-resin rigid bales, with most of their overall increase coming from the purchasing of non-bottle rigid plastic segregated by resin from both residential and commercial sources.

As China’s import policies continue to affect the market, material that is not segregated by resin is the most at risk because there is less demand from the export market and little sorting capacity and infrastructure in the U.S. to get that material to reclaimers and end markets. This non-segregated portion currently makes up 27 percent of the non-bottle rigid plastic collected for recycling in the U.S.

For complete details on the non-bottle rigid report, go to stina.biz/nonbottle17.

Data Sort is produced each quarter by More Recycling. For additional information, go to morerecycling.com.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Plastics Recycling Update. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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Data sort: Impacts of boosting PCR in trash bags

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The largest environmental benefit from plastics recycling comes when post-consumer resin (PCR) is incorporated into a new product, displacing virgin resin that would otherwise be used. To bring that somewhat abstract concept into real-world terms, we analyzed the effects of increasing PCR in one specific everyday item: plastic trash bags.

In the U.S. trash bag market, approximately 6 billion pounds of PE resin is used annually. The table below shows the details on what would happen if different levels of PCR usage were achieved in the production of these products. Note that 10 percent PCR is currently required in trash bags sold in California and one company, Revolution Bag, currently has a product line featuring 97 percent PCR.

Numbers were tabulated by More Recycling using information from several private reports as well as the U.S. EPA’s WARM calculator and extrapolation of California’s most recent waste characterization study.

Data Sort is produced each quarter by More Recycling. For additional information, go to morerecycling.com.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Plastics Recycling Update. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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