Demand for recycled plastics in the U.S. to rise 5.9 percent annually through 2016

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Demand for recycled plastics in the U.S. to rise 5.9 percent annually through 2016

Greentech Lead U.S: The demand for post-consumer recycled
plastics is forecast to rise 5.9 percent per year to 3.4 billion pounds in 2016
in the U.S, according to a new market research report from Reportlinker.

Gains will be driven by a number of factors, including a
growing emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer product
manufacturers, advancements in processing and sorting technologies allowing a
wider variety of plastic to be recycled, and an improved collection
infrastructure that raises the plastic recycling rate.

In addition to these, continued support by federal,
state, and local governments for recycling efforts will also provide a
significant boost to recycled plastic collection, processing, and demand.

However, the report finds that overall rate of plastic
recycling in the US will remain relatively low — 6.5 percent of total plastic
demand in 2016 — as the industry faces a number of challenges.

Recycling is minimal in several major plastic markets,
including construction products, motor vehicles (other than batteries), and
packaging film, due to a lack of collection capability or economical
processing. Export sales (particularly to China) siphon off a substantial
portion of plastic scrap, and much of what is processed domestically has high
levels of contamination.

As a result, only 53 percent of the plastic collected for
recycling makes its way to manufactured products in the US market.

Bottles will remain the leading source of plastic for
recycling, accounting for about half of all plastic collected in 2016. The well
established collection infrastructure, including deposit laws in several
states, makes bottles one of the most widely recycled plastic products. More rapid
gains, however, are forecast for other sources, particularly rigid plastics,
film, and carpet.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density
polyethylene (HDPE) were the two leading resins used in recycled plastic
products in 2011, accounting for over 70 percent of demand. While PET will see
above average gains in demand, fueled by rising recycled content in beverage
bottles and thermoformed containers, subpar increases in HDPE collection will
limit demand for recycled resin.

The most rapid growth is forecast for low density
polyethylene, which will benefit from a rebound in the construction market, as
well as smaller volume resins such as polypropylene and nylon.

Packaging will continue to be the leading market for recycled
plastic in 2016, with strongest gains expected for food and beverage bottles
and clamshell containers, fueled by rising production of recycled resins
suitable for food contact uses, the report finds.

A rebound in US construction activity will drive strong
demand for recycled plastics in construction product markets, particularly
lumber and pipe applications. While advances in the motor vehicle market will
be limited by the highly mature battery segment, use of recycled plastic in
fabrics and other vehicle interior applications will increase at a robust pace.

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