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PET Recycling Facing Challenges


At a recent paper and plastic recycling conference held in Chicago, representatives of Phoenix Technologies and Indorama Inc. outlined obstacles to greater use of recycled PET material.  The first problem relates to a significant decline in the price of virgin material.  This has had an effect through the chain of recycling, lowering the price of bailed PET. The second obstacle is represented by deficiencies in collection consolidation and transport to recycling plants that has restricted processors from obtaining capacity to achieve economies of scale.


It is hoped that manufacturers of branded products will demand increased recycled content in PET packaging in response to consumer desires.  Regulations introduced at the local and state levels have improved supply.  This is evidenced by Indorama receiving supplies of collected material from California for their plant in Texas. Imposition of bottle deposits, and other incentives for recycling will obviously increase the content of rPET in food and beverage packaging.


From personal observations, Sprouts and other retailers that take pride in an environmentally friendly and sustainable image have no in-store program for customers to recycle PET containers.  Given reliance on this material for fruits, vegetables, and numerous items companies should place receptacles for customers to deposit used packaging.  Since municipal recycling programs frequently do not accept PET, it would appear incumbent on retailers to fill the gap in the chain.