US demand to rise 5.9% annually through 2016
US demand for post-consumer recycledplastics is forecast to rise 5.9 percent peryear to 3.4 billion pounds in 2016. Gainswill be driven by a number of factors,including a growing emphasis onsustainability among packaging andconsumer product manufacturers,advancements in processing and sortingtechnologies allowing a wider variety ofplastic to be recycled, and an improvedcollection infrastructure that raises theplastic recycling rate. Continued supportby federal, state, and local governmentsfor recycling efforts will also provide asignificant boost to recycled plasticcollection, processing, and demand.
However, the overall rate of plasticrecycling in the US will remain relativelylow -- 6.5 percent of total plastic demandin 2016 -- as the industry faces a numberof challenges. Recycling is minimal inseveral major plastic markets, includingconstruction products, motor vehicles(other than batteries), and packaging film,due to a lack of collection capability oreconomical processing. Export sales(particularly to China) siphon off asubstantial portion of plastic scrap, andmuch of what is processed domesticallyhas high levels of contamination. As aresult, only 53 percent of the plasticcollected for recycling makes its way tomanufactured products in the US market.
Collection of rigid plastic and film on the rise
Bottles will remain the leading source ofplastic for recycling, accounting for abouthalf of all plastic collected in 2016. Thewell established collection infrastructure,including deposit laws in several states,makes bottles one of the most widelyrecycled plastic products. More rapidgains, however, are forecast for othersources, particularly rigid plastics, film,and carpet. The recycling industry has putsignificant efforts into increasing thecollection of rigid plastic, includingthermoformed packaging and bulkcontainers, particularly at the commerciallevel. Bag and film recycling will also bebolstered by private industry collectioninitiatives, as these are a key source ofraw materials for plastic bag and woodplasticcomposite producers.
LDPE to be fastest growing recycled resin
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) andhigh density polyethylene (HDPE) werethe two leading resins used in recycledplastic products in 2011, accounting forover 70 percent of demand. While PETwill see above average gains in demand,fueled by rising recycled content inbeverage bottles and thermoformedcontainers, subpar increases in HDPEcollection will limit demand for recycledresin. The most rapid growth is forecastfor low density polyethylene, which willbenefit from a rebound in the constructionmarket, as well as smaller volumeresins such as polypropylene and nylon.
Packaging to remain largest recycled plastics market
Packaging will continue to be the leadingmarket for recycled plastic in 2016, withstrongest gains expected for food andbeverage bottles and clamshell containers,fueled by rising production ofrecycled resins suitable for food contactuses. A rebound in US constructionactivity will drive strong demand forrecycled plastics in construction productmarkets, particularly lumber and pipeapplications. While advances in the motorvehicle market will be limited by thehighly mature battery segment, use ofrecycled plastic in fabrics and othervehicle interior applications will increaseat a robust pace.
US Demand for Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics to Reach 3.5 Billion Pounds in 2016
US demand for post-consumer recycled plastic is forecast to rise 6.5 percent per year to 3.5 billion pounds in 2016. Gains will be driven by a number of factors, including a growing emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer product manufacturers, advancements in processing and sorting technologies allowing a wider variety of plastic to be recycled into high quality resins, and an improved collection infrastructure which raises the plastic recycling rate. Continued support by federal, state, and local governments for recycling efforts will also provide a significant boost to recycled plastic collection, processing, and demand. Packaging will continue to be the leading market for recycled plastic in 2016. Bottles will remain the leading source of plastic for recycling, accounting for over half of all plastic collected in 2016. These and other trends are presented in Recycled Plastics, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
The overall rate of plastic recycling in the US will remain relatively low -- less than seven percent of total plastic demand in 2016 -- as the industry faces a number of challenges. Recycling is minimal in several major plastic markets, including construction products, motor vehicles (other than batteries), and packaging film, due to a lack of collection capability or economical processing. Export sales (mostly to China) siphon off a substantial portion of plastic scrap, and much of what is processed domestically has high levels of contamination. As a result, only about half of the plastic collected for recycling makes its way to manufactured products in the US market.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) were the two leading resins used in recycled plastic products in 2011, accounting for over 70 percent of demand. While PET will see above average gains in demand, fueled by rising recycled content in beverage bottles and thermoformed containers, subpar increases in HDPE collection will limit the availability of recycled resin. The most rapid growth is forecast for recycled low density polyethylene, which will benefit from a rebound in the construction market. Recycled polypropylene will also see healthy gains in demand as collection volumes increase and processing techniques improve the quality of the resin. Rapid growth is expected for smaller volume resins such as nylon and polystyrene, fueled by rising collection of products such as carpet, plastic foam, and consumer electronics for recycling.
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