The Recycling Condundrum

by Todd McDonald on December 19, 2012

The alarm goes off. You jump out of bed, brush your teeth and swish some mint flavored mouthwash around. Slowly beginning to wake up, it’s into the shower as you reach for the shampoo bottle. Then it’s a quick gulp from the OJ carton before it’s out the door and back to business.

But what happens when the mouthwash runs out or the shampoo bottle is empty? We go to the store to buy more, and probably never think twice about those empty bottles. So where do they go?

According to new EPA estimates, most of those plastic bottles are actually going to a landfill, not a recycling facility. In fact, the plastics recycling rate is hovering around a paltry 8%.

However, in her recent Plastics Today article “There’s a Strong Demand for Recycled Plastics, so Why Aren’t More People Recycling?” Heather Caliendo notes that U.S. demand for post-consumer recycled plastics is forecasted to grow 5.9% by 2016, a pretty strong indication that consumers want to be recycling (66% of Americans say they would like to learn some simple steps they could take to help the environment more).

They just don’t know they can or where to do it.

And it’s not for lack of places to recycle – according to the American Chemistry Council, 80% of Americans have access to recycling opportunities.

Here we see inefficiency at its best. Consumers want to recycle, the options are readily available, and still, 92% of recyclable goods are ending up in a landfill. How can we increase consumer awareness and correct this inefficiency?

Thankfully, the recycling industry is putting more effort into increasing the collection of thermoformed packaging, especially PET and HDPE, the two leading resins used in recyclable products in 2011 (and the two of the primary resins we use at TEQ).

In addition, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition will be launching an innovative How2Recycle initiative, which provides explicit recycling instructions directly on the product label, which is slated to appear on a majority of consumer packing by 2016.

And, here at TEQ, we offer more than six different options when it comes to recyclable plastics including Post Consumer RPET, Bio-Land PET, and PLA.

What about you? What are some ways your business or industry is working to raise the recycling rate?

 

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: