Last month I spent a week in Texas at a recycling conference. I use these conferences to help understand what’s happening outside the thermoforming world. The information helps direct our employees and clients on what’s happening and what’s best for their project.
Here is some of the interesting information I picked up form the conference:
-Currently it costs $30-$40 per household per year for curb side recycling in the US. The EPR method (Extended Producer Responsibility) changes this to the consumer by being integrated in product cost. The producers are saying if they are paying for recycling they want the packaging back. All eyes are on Ontario to see how it works. Speakers commented that rumblings from the recycling industry didn’t like what Ontario was doing.
-Recycling percentage in 1960 was 6% now 35% in USA.
-Oregon department of Environment; stated that if we recycled 95% of packaging we would only reduce emissions by 6%. We need to work on other area’s in order to make an impact on emissions.
-Reclaimers are retro-fitting to get more thermoforms in with the bottle flake, apparently you can add up to 6%-10% without effecting the bottle flake regrind.
-NAPCOR & SPI have 3 thermoform reclaim plants in startup and have produced 180,000lbs of material.
-Plastics to Oil is great for non recyclable plastics (like non clear materials), 4 plants running in the US.
-The paper board industry has a shortage of recycled container board paper. China’s growing need for paper is driving paper pricing up. Current supply and demand is neutral but the next couple years will see a shortage in recycled fiber forcing a need for virgin fiber and clear cutting trees. The industry is preparing for the activist.
-Is it worth recycling plastic, yes…… it takes 84% less energy to use recycled plastic feed stock compared to virgin.
Summary; we are not recovering enough bottle flake and there is a need to recover all the plastics (other goods as well). The tone at the conference was that we are wasting resources. There are still some struggles with best method to make recycling recovery a viable business. Ontario’s EPR is government driven and the US hates Government getting involved so it’s a bit of a mess in the US figuring out how to recover for recycling. My father mentioned the other day that Toronto announced on the news that they want all PET containers put in the blue box. Their equipment can now identify resins better so they want people to recycle all clear containers. Maybe Ontario is leading the way or maybe Dad’s picture in the lobby is working?