Can We Meet RPET Demands?
Why has recycled content become more important, and what are we doing to meet those goals?
By: Catherine Haub
Flimsy plastic packaging seems to be a thing of the past due to its low recyclability, and many are switching to other options such as PET that are just as effective as flexible materials but are much easier to recycle. When PET is recycled, it can be reused to make new products which means that less new material is made (a.k.a turning the old into new!). Many companies are switching to PET for this reason and want their packaging to include recycled content as it is better for the environment . States, like California for example, are also going to start requiring that plastic packaging contains a certain amount of recycled content . While it is great that companies and states are moving towards utilizing recycled material, with low plastic recycling rates across the countries, getting enough recycled material may become an issue. The market for recycled material is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 7.4% between 2022 and 2030 , but is there going to be enough recycled material to meet these demands?
Back in 2021, out of the 40 million tons of plastic produced, only about 2 million tons were recycled, which means that only 5-6% of the plastic produced was recycled . There has been a decrease in recycling since 2018, when the rate was 8.7%, which does not look good when it comes to needing recycled material . With how much RPET is in demand, there is a chance we would see an increase in price in RPET . To meet this RPET demand, we need to improve recycling across the country.
There are many things’ consumers can do to boost recycling rates, such as properly recycling their PET materials. Curbside recycling does make a difference, especially the more people that do it. Many consumers agree that they need to be more involved with recycling as 78% agree that consumers are the ones responsible for recycling their materials . Another aspect that leads to lower recycling rates includes the infrastructure we currently have, and if we want to increase recycled content, we need more facilities to take in recyclables. Luckily, the EPA is working towards increasing infrastructure across the country, which will help reclaim PET that citizens recycle .
As many companies and states are making sustainable moves, increasing the amount of recycled content in PET products is one way they are doing so. With this, there has been a major increase in the demand for recycled PET, but we may not have the resources necessary to meet their goals. By increasing recycling rates and infrastructure, we may be able to reach these goals while making a positive impact on the planet.
For 55 years, Placon has been a leading designer and manufacturer of custom and stock plastic packaging for the food, medical, and retail markets. Placon has manufacturing operations in Madison, WI; Elkhart, IN; Plymouth, MN; and West Springfield, MA, and currently ranked in Plastics News 2020 Thermoformers Ranking Top 20. Placon delivers packaging breakthroughs that inspire better engagement between people and products with industry leading innovation and award-winning packaging designs. For more information, visit www.placon.com.