The annual report from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) shows over 1.8 billion pounds of PET bottles were collected in the U.S. for recycling in 2018, up 5% over the previous year.

But the U.S. recycling rate for those bottles remained roughly flat at 28.9%, compared to 29.2% in 2017, because generation increased. The rate is calculated by dividing total PET bottles recycled domestically and exported by the total used in U.S. bottles.

The study also documented an ongoing shift away from exports and toward domestic outlets. In 2018, U.S. reclaimers purchased nearly 1.7 billion pounds of recovered PET bottles, up 16% from the year before. About 140 million pounds of PET bottle scrap were exported (including to Canada), a decrease of 50%. The percentage exported – just under 8% – is the lowest since 2000.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) jointly released a report examining the recycling of all post-consumer bottles, including those made of PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP and other polymers (APR owns Resource Recycling, Inc.)

The research found that U.S. consumers recycled nearly 2.9 billion pounds of plastic bottles last year, up from 2.8 billion pounds recycled in 2017. But because of growing sales of resin for plastic bottle production, the recycling rate fell slightly from 29.3% in 2017 to 28.9% in 2018.

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