The U.S. does not have sufficient supplies or processing capacity for recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) required to meet the targets set by brands for recycled PET content in their bottles. This is the conclusion of an investigation by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) as published in an article on August 29, 2019 by Plastic News.
The current U.S. recycling rate for PET is just under 30%, with much of this material coming from applications other than bottles. Brands such as Coca-Cola (FPF reported) and PepsiCo (FPF reported) have made commitments to increase the use of recycled PET (rPET) in their packaging in order to meet increasing pressure to address single-use plastic waste. However, “we’ve got a problem and we’re not going to be able to meet those commitments easily,” said NAPCOR director Alasdair Carmichael. “People don’t realize how far away we are currently in being able to achieve the levels that are potentially talked about,” he went on to say. “If we stay as we are, these commitments are not really going to be achievable. Something has to change on the collection end, not just at the production end.”
Ten states in the U.S. are reported to have bottle deposit schemes in place, with consequently much higher recycling rates “between 65 and 95 percent.” Recent calls have also been made in the government to upgrade the recycling infrastructure in the U.S. (FPF reported), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set up working groups on the issue and published a recent status report about ongoing efforts (FPF reported).
Jim Johnson (August 29, 2019). “NAPCOR: US lacks recycled PET to meet consumer brands’ pledges.” Plastics News
Jim Johnson (August 30, 2019). “Official: US lacking recycled PET to meet consumer brands’ pledges.” Plastics News Europe