The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) has released its 2022 PET Recycling Report. The report found that PET recycling rates held steady with the US rate at 29% and the North American PET recycling rate at 37.8%. Demand for recycled PET (rPET) also remained strong in 2022, and a new milestone was reached with over 50% of end market consumption in the US and Canada in bottle markets for the first time.

“There is a growing demand for recycled content from manufacturers within both the food/beverage and non-food bottle categories,” said Laura Stewart, NAPCOR Executive Director. “This is continued evidence that packaging made from PET can be reused and repurposed and has a key role to play in the circular economy. Everyone involved, including manufacturers, consumers and packagers, needs to work together and make significant changes to ensure enough PET is collected and full circularity can be achieved.”

“It is encouraging to see strong demand for postconsumer recycled PET,” said Tom Busard, NAPCOR Chairman, Chief Polymers and Recycling Officer for Plastipak Packaging, Inc., and President of Clean Tech, Plastipak’s recycling affiliate. “To continue meeting this demand, there is a need to see increased collection to meet both legislated and voluntary recycled content demands of the future.”

[Referring to graphic] The PET recycling collection rate has remained steady, at around 30 percent over the past decade, while there is a growing demand for more postconsumer recycled content among North American end markets. To meet this increased demand, more PET packaging needs to be collected through new policies, changes in consumer habits, and better recycling infrastructure.

Other key findings from the analysis of PET reclamation and markets from the report:

  • The PET recycling rate in the US was 29%, down slightly from 30.3% in 2021, and the North American (US, Canada, and Mexico) rate was 37.8%, down slightly from 38.4% in 2021.
  • 2022 reports a healthy 15% growth in recycled content used in US bottles, which consumed 870 million pounds of rPET.
  • Bottles continue to be the dominant end market segment for rPET, by an even more significant margin in 2022.
  • Significant increases in PET collection would be needed to match the recycled content demands of the future. To reach a widely quoted target for rPET content—25% by 2025—in all US bottles, PET recyclers would need 1.75 billion pounds of collected PET or 85% more collection than in 2022. To achieve 50% recycled content by 2030 in US bottles, 3.87 billion pounds of postconsumer PET feedstock would be required, which is more than three times the weight collected in 2022.

In terms of PET thermoform innovation and recovery, the report shows:

  • Use of recyclate from postconsumer PET thermoforms, while a small segment of total resin usage in the thermoform market, increased by 88% compared to 2021.
  • There is a need for more collection and end markets willing to use this feedstock to build momentum for thermoform circularity.
  • In 2022 PET thermoforms used an average of 12% postconsumer rPET content. This shift signals a slow but steady industry-wide progression towards integrating more recycled content into thermoform manufacturing.

“Our NAPCOR team goes above and beyond to ensure consumers understand recycling efforts and the impact it has on our planet,” says Stewart. “Our analyses of postconsumer PET bottles, the PET thermoform market, and supply chains for virgin and recycled PET detail important data needed to inform policy and industry developments toward PET circularity. Work done by the NAPCOR team to ensure sustainability and growth serves both our industry and our planet.”

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Author: Business Wire