A combination of high demand for recycling and reduced PET sales was pinpointed by the 2009 Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity, as the two major trends during the year.
The report by National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) also said that further investments would be needed to provide the market with RPET, which will help the industry achieve sustainable pricing.
NAPCOR defined an adequate supply of post consumer bottles as one that can both support the existing reclamation infrastructure but that can also allow for the additional investments needed to provide the market with the RPET it needs at sustainable pricing for now and the future.
“It would appear that to achieve this level of supply, the recycling rate will need to increase to at least twice what it is this year,” said the group.
The 2009 report revealed that the US recycling rate had increased to 28 per centm the sixth consecutive year of PET container recycling increase. However, negative growth that commenced in 2008 for PET bottles and jars sold in the US continued in 2009.
Negative PET growth
“The same ‘perfect storm’ conditions reported in 2008 were in play again in 2009; poor weather, the weak economy, and dietary concerns all contributed to significant loss of sales in the beverage category, particularly in the isotonic drinks segment,” said NAPCOR.
These market conditions, combined with ongoing lightweighting initiatives, reduced the amount of PET resin used in bottles and jars by about 4 per cent from 2008.
But despite the reduction in PET sales, the report revealed a “renewed interest in recycling” from brand owners in converting food and non-food containers to PET from other materials, which it said had led to more recycling opportunities, both residential and away-from home.
Use of RPET in food, beverage and non-food PET containers increased by 37 per cent from 2008 to 2009. NAPCOR said that it expected this strong interest in PET to “contribute to future industry growth” as pressure continued for environmentally sound packaging, as the economy recovers and consumer spending increases.
“These additional collection efforts helped offset the reduced volume of PET bottles and jars available for collection,” said NAPCOR. But the association warned: “Ultimately, this combination of high demand and inadequate supply means higher pricing is likely to come, possible in excess of virgin alternatives. This will invariably lead some end users to question how deep their commitments to RPET run.”