The recycling of rigid plastics excluding bottles rose to nearly 1.02 billion pounds in 2012, an increase of 10 percent over 2011 and triple the amount recycled in 2007 when the industry first began tracking rigid plastics recycling.
The "2012 National Report on Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling" attributes the 82 million-pound increase to the growth in the collection of plastics beyond bottles in municipalities across the U.S.
"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."
Approximately 57 percent of the rigid plastics collected was processed in the U.S. and Canada with the remainder 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 with polypropylene constituting 38 percent of all rigid plastics recycled and high-density polyethylene constituting 34 percent. According to the report, polypropylene and polyethylene generally have the highest market value in both domestic and export markets because they are relatively easy to process and have a wide range of manufacturing uses.