The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) compiles an annual overview of the plastic beverage container industry. The latest available report, based on statistics from 2005, indicates that the recycling rate for PET containers has rebounded slightly in the past two years after a nine-year plunge. Despite the gradual increase, Dennis Sabourin, executive director of NAPCOR, says he's not happy with the current recycling rate because there is so much ground to gain after the sizeable drop from the 1990s when the rate approached 40 percent.
The next report, containing the results for 2006, will be released in October, and Sabourin says he expects the recycling rate to continue to climb. Two of the major reasons for those expectations, he says, are the more consumer friendly nature of recycling and an overall increase in environmental awareness for consumers. “Capital expenditures of recycling facilities and single stream recycling methods make it easier than ever for people to recycle,” he says. “Also, people are paying more attention to issues like rising oil prices and global warming.”
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is commonly found on store shelves and in vending machines. Many of the containers for everyday items such as drinks, condiments, shampoo and cleaning products are made from PET.
The previous report showed that the recycling rate increased slightly for the second consecutive year to 23 percent, compared to 22 percent in 2004 and 20 percent in 2003, after falling from 39 percent in 1995. Sabourin attributes the recycling drop off to the rapid growth of PET containers in the market. “Recycling just couldn't keep up,” he says.