Fri February 20, 2015

Jacob Barron 
Tel: 202-974-5249  | JBarron@plasticsindustry.org

February 20, 2015

Just two years into its existence, the SPI Annual Recycling Report is already painting a clearer portrait of the North American recycling industry, including its size and the obstacles and opportunities facing the industry.

WASHINGTON—SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the SPI Recycling Committee released the 2014 SPI Plastics Industry Recycling Report Friday. Based on a survey conducted last year, the report provides information on how SPI members are managing post-industrial plastic waste generated in the manufacturing process as well as post-consumer scrap generated through the normal course of business activities.

“In the short time since its inception, the SPI Recycling Committee has continually provided vital information that helps the entire plastic manufacturing industry operate more efficiently, and more sustainably,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “The information contained in these reports provides an important barometer for the industry’s waste management and reduction practices, and points to new opportunities for how all plastics companies can make changes that ensure all plastic materials get a second life through recycling.”

The survey asked respondents about the amount of post-industrial and post-consumer scrap generated in the U.S. that was handled at their facility in 2013. The 2014 SPI Recycling Report found that among plastics materials suppliers, plastics processors and brand owners, respondents reported generating and handling 2.3 billion pounds of post-industrial material, of which 2.0 billion pounds were recycled.

Nearly 90% of all scrap material produced in manufacturing is recycled, according to the report. For materials that cannot be either technically or economically recycled, the report suggests that emerging technologies for converting scrap plastics into oils and fuels present alternatives to landfilling for these non-recycled materials.  The information from these findings will help the SPI Recycling Committee to continue work in creating resources for the industry to further drive recovery of materials in manufacturing.

“Obstacles continue to exist for recycling efforts throughout the plastics industry supply chain, but what the SPI 2014 Recycling Report confirms is that the plastics industry is an extremely efficient one from the perspective of waste generation in the manufacturing process,” said SPI Senior Director of Recycling and Diversion Kim Holmes. “In order to reach the Zero Net Waste goal set by SPI and the SPI Recycling Committee, energy conversion of non-recycled scrap plastic materials, into new fuels and chemicals, provide the best alternative to landfilling the scrap that cannot be mechanically recycled today.”

Elsewhere in the report, independent recyclers reported handling 95.3 billion pounds of post-industrial scrap plastics in 2013 although this category is broadly defined, comprised of brokers, toll service providers, compounders of recycled material and other companies offering value-added services for these materials. “Multiple service providers might touch the same material in order to get it into a state where it can be used by manufacturers, but nonetheless, the size of this figure allows us to get an idea of just how vast the North American recycling industry is,” Holmes said. “As the Recycling Report garners greater industry buy-in and participation from all recyclers, we’ll be better able to break apart this number and understand what’s actually being done to different recycled materials at different stages in the recycling value chain.”

“SPI and its Recycling Committee will continue its work to develop programs, tools and resources that further drive the entire plastics industry toward the most efficient materials management models, in the hope of minimizing, and ultimately eliminating, waste going to landfills,” Holmes added.

A full copy of the report is available here.

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Founded in 1937, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association promotes growth in the $427 billion U.S. plastics industry. Representing nearly one million American workers in the third largest U.S. manufacturing industry, SPI delivers legislative and regulatory advocacy, market research, industry promotion and the fostering of business relationships and zero waste strategies. SPI also owns and produces the international NPE trade show. All profits from NPE are reinvested into SPI’s industry services. Find SPI online at www.plasticsindustry.org and www.inthehopper.org.

"From resin suppliers and equipment makers to processors and brand owners, SPI is proud to represent all facets of the U.S. plastics industry," said William R. Carteaux, president and CEO, SPI. "Our most recent economic reports show that the plastics industry as a whole is resilient, and has come through the recession significantly better than other U.S. manufacturing sectors."

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