Demand vs Supply of PET Bottle
The growing national consumption of single-serving water bottles made from raw materials is an unnecessary waste of resources, as dozens of recycling businesses have the capacity to recycle these and other PET bottles. They have an economic interest in recycling. Scrap bottles provide a cost saving alternative to virgin resin both for processors and end-users, who manufacture new bottles and other plastic products. NAPCOR’s ‘2004 Report on Post-Consumer PET Recycling Activity’ stated that ‘Even with the increases posted in 2004, supply remains inadequate [for] all end-use applications at their desired levels.’
Why are scrap PET bottles in short supply? Why, when Americans are throwing away 22 billion plastic water bottles a year, are there not enough scrap bottles for plastics recyclers? One problem is China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for PET, and the inability of domestic recyclers to compete with the prices China is willing to pay.
According to NAPCOR, US exports of scrap PET bottles increased from 143 million pounds (65 million kg) in 1998 to 298 million pounds (135 million kg) in 2004. Exports aside, there were more than 3633 million pounds(1648 million kg) of domestic scrap PET bottles that could have been recycled, but were not.
The broken link between post consumer PET bottles and plastics processors is the lack of an adequate collection infrastructure.
First, nearly one-half of the US population does not have access to recycling and probably never will. These include individuals and families who live in very rural areas or in high-rise apartment buildings. Even in communities that are served by a kerbside programme, not everyone participates due to apathy, bad weather, confusion about what can and can’t be recycled, or just plain laziness.
But even if every family in America had access to kerbside recycling, water bottles are much more likely to be consumed in hotels, offices, schools, and during sporting events and outdoor activities than most beverages, and would not likely make it into the kerbside recycling bin. Recycling in commercial buildings is scarce, and recycling at sports, entertainment venues, parks and beach areas has proven extremely challenging.
Another problem is that only two of the 10 states (Maine and California) that implemented container deposit laws prior to 2002 have updated their laws to include bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages (which didn’t exist when these programmes were enacted more than 20 years ago).
Nara Loca Abadi is a recycled plastic specialist that concerned about the earth and environment by promoting the use of recycled PET flakes, recycled PET chips, recycled PP & HDPE granules to various plastic and polyester manufacturers.