PET container recycling was up significantly in 2008. More than 1.45 billion pounds of PET bottles were collected in the United States, which was a new record, and the recycling rate hit 27 percent
The data was released Oct. 22 at the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers meeting. Demand for recycled PET actually shrunk in some traditionally important markets — fiber, including carpeting; and strapping. But growing use of recycled PET in food and beverage bottles and sheet more than made up the difference. “PET sheet buyers were particularly aggressive, posting a 20 percent increase in purchases over 2007,” according to the report. The report attributed those increases to “increased brand-owner demand for post-consumer content,” and noted that some buyers were willing to pay a premium over virgin resin prices. Although PET collection in the United States rose about 3.9 percent from 2007, the report points out that U.S. recycling plants were not able to take advantage of the additional volume. U.S. reclaimers bought only 615 million pounds of PET in 2008, down from 641 million in 2007. PET purchased by exporters rose to 836 million pounds, up 10.7 percent from 2007. The report pointed out, however, that Chinese traders curtailed PET purchases in late 2008.