Rigid plastics recycling, excluding bottles, exceeded 1 billion pounds in 2012, an increase of 10 percent over 2011. That is triple the amount recycled in 2007 when the industry first began tracking rigid plastics recycling, according to the American Chemistry Council.
The “2012 National Report on Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling” report attributes the 82 million-pound increase to rapid growth in the collection of plastics beyond bottles in municipalities across the United States.
Approximately 57 percent of the rigid plastics collected was processed in the US and Canada with the remainder exported, primarily to China.
Polypropylene and polyethylene plastics comprise the largest portion (72 percent) of postconsumer rigid plastics collected with polypropylene constituting 38 percent of all rigid plastics recycled and high-density polyethylene constituting 34 percent.
Primary domestic end uses for recycled rigid plastics include crates, buckets, pipe, auto parts, and lawn and garden products. Consumer products such as cutting boards, food storage containers and other types of kitchenware are becoming popular end uses, as are toothbrushes and razors. A small portion of recycled rigid plastics is used in composite materials for products such as outdoor lumber, pallets and railroad ties.
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