During the financial crisis of 2008, recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) bottles, the most highly recycled resin, suffered along with all other recycled commodities. In January of 2008, East coast rPET baled prices ranged from $.18 to $.24 per pound, but by December of that year, it plummeted to $.02 to $.04 cents per pound. Current United States prices for baled rPET are in the $.16 to $.19 per pound range. Late this summer, for the first time in European market history rPET hit record high price levels actually reaching parity with virgin PET resin and in some instances, exceeding them.
Matt Coz, vice president of recycling services at Waste Management, Inc. (WM), provided a broad overview of what has been happening in recycled plastics over the past few years. WM and its subsidiaries provide waste collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. WM’s sites include 273 landfills, 345 transfer stations, over 120 beneficial-use landfill gas projects and 16 waste-to-energy plants.
WM also operates about 100 recycling facilities in the United States, of which 33 are single stream recycling facilities where the company captures and sorts materials from a commingled stream. In the case of plastics, WM sorts by resin types, typically the two largest volume grades recovered are PET and high density polyethylene (HDPE), the number 2 recycled category, or in a shrinking percentage of its plants it makes mixed bales of plastic. Most all of WM’s recycled plastics production is sold domestically. ...read more
- Common sense trumps bag bans
- RISI pulp and paper ranks published
- President of MBA Polymers wins Innovation Award
- CNG acquires Parsons’s fine paper division
- The McGraw-Hill Companies named to sustainability indexes
- LA’s BEST and the ACC educate students on plastic recycling
- EQUIPMENT SPOTLIGHT: Paper/Plastics Balers
- Shipments of Kraft paper up according to AF&PA report
- Caraustar ups price on paper products
- Earth911 partners with IBWA to educate consumers
- Hudson Color ordered to comply by EPA
- Freudenberg Nonwovens finds creative ways to recycle PET bottles
- Center to study effects of plastics chemicals on children’s health
- Plant-based plastic used in consumer cups
- Staples revamps products and packaging strategy
- Reveal crafts waste plastic into luxury bags
Common sense trumps bag bans
There are many reasons why plastic bags may be considered less harmful than paper bags. They’re made from recycled materials, are lighter and easier to transport in bulk and their manufacture releases fewer air pollutants. The missing conclusion in this otherwise compelling story, however, is making sure that the vast majority of retail plastic bags are deposited in recycling bins to become raw material for new product production.
When it comes to plastic shopping bags, radicals in opposing camps have divided sharply along dogmatic lines. On one side there are dedicated activists that would like to see all plastic bags replaced with earth-friendly reusable bags. On the other are shoppers and industrialists who see plastic as a convenient, inexpensive solution to one of humankind’s most perplexing problems: how to carry stuff?
In the middle of the battle, are the pragmatists who acknowledge the arguments on both sides of the issue and see regulators as referees. Are more regulations, reporting requirements and bureaucratic oversight necessary? Will bans lead to enforcement, including fines? Can the litter and environmental issues associated with plastic bags be solved intelligently in a free-market through responsible recycling? ...read more