Plastic bales
© arnaudmartinez - stock.adobe.com

Plastic industry groups highlight recycling progress and targets on America Recycles Day

The American Chemistry Council also released a report on the potential of secondary sortation facilities.

November 15, 2022

On America Recycles Day, which takes place Nov. 15, several plastic industry leaders have announced progress that is being made related to plastics recycling efforts.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has announced several developments that demonstrate progress toward meeting some of its members’ goal to reuse, recycle or recover 100 percent of U.S. plastic packaging by 2040.  

ACC says Titus MRF Services of Danville, California, has prepared a report titled, “Northeast Secondary Sorting Study” for ACC to highlight the potential for using advanced sortation in the Northeast. ACC says the report states that secondary sorting facilities could recapture up to 50 percent of the plastic and other material that otherwise would have gone to landfill.

Other groups also have released important studies to help encourage the use of secondary sortation facilities for recycling plastics. According to ACC, McKinsey & Co. has published, “Beyond the Bottle: Solutions for Recycling Challenging Plastics,” which reports that demand for recycled plastic is strong and that wider deployment of feedstock preparation facilities (e.g., secondary sortation facilities) can help recycle a wider variety of plastics and improve the quality of the feedstock available for recycling. McKinsey’s report says secondary sortation facilities can drive down the cost of plastics processing, making them economically attractive to investors.

ACC says U.S. plastic makers have made investments in secondary sortation facilities in order to improve recycling rates and accelerate a more circular economy for plastics, including a $100 million investment from ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell and Cyclyx in Houston.

“When it comes to building a circular economy, America’s plastic makers aren’t just dipping their toes in—we’re diving in headfirst,” says Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at the American Chemistry Council. “We’re seeing millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars, being regularly announced to expand, advance and accelerate America’s plastics recycling infrastructure.”

ACC reports that wider access to feedstock preparation facilities would enable “a huge step forward” for plastics recycling.

In addition, Plastics Industry Association (Plastics) President and CEO Matt Seaholm released a statement Nov. 15 highlighting the importance of recycling in the plastics industry.

“Recycling Day reminds us that without the actual process of recycling, we would head down the wrong path in the face of environmental challenges,” Seaholm says. “Recycling is real and the plastics industry is committed to solutions in sustainability that reduce plastic waste. The plastics industry has invested billions of dollars into recycling technology in an effort to increase recycling rates with billions more announced, and we are proud to be part of the solution. While the recycling efforts of communities and business throughout the United States have helped with the success and growth of recycling rates, America can do better.

“The great news is that we are recycling billions of pounds of plastic every year and that number is only going up—but we need to recycle more. Working with other industries in the recycling stream, we need to make it easier for consumers to get more material to our recyclers and keep that valuable plastic in the economy instead of in a landfill.”