The recycling of rigid plastics climbed 10 percent in 2012 to more than 1 billion pounds.
The total of 1.02 billion pounds triples the amount recycled in 2007 when the industry began tracking rigid plastics recycling, according the latest study by Moore Recycling Associates Inc., Sonoma, Calif.
The report said the increase of 82 million pounds from 2011 occurred because of the growth in plastics collection beyond bottles from municipalities in the United States, according to a news release.
“Tripling the recycling rate for rigid plastics in just six years is an amazing accomplishment,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR). “In a short period of time, rigids have become the fastest growing category of plastics recycling, and we’re excited about the future.”
About 57 percent of the rigid plastics collected was processed in the United States and Canada. The remainder was exported, primarily to China. Recycling statistics in 2012 were not affected by China’s Green Fence policy, which began in February 2013.
Polypropylene and polyethylene plastics comprise the largest portion (72 percent) of postconsumer rigid plastics collected in the United States. Polypropylene accounted for 38 percent of all rigid plastics recycled and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) 34 percent.
“We are thrilled to see this kind of growth in rigid plastics recycling,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.
A separate Moore Recycling report stated that more than 60 percent of Americans have local access to a recycling program that collects rigid plastics.