Monday, March 23, 2015

Plastics Recycling - Good News and Bad News

A couple of recent online reports highlight the "interesting" times that plastics recycling faces. (By "interesting", I'm referring to the infamous non-Chinese, Chinese curse of living in interesting times.)

First, the good news: The American Chemistry Council is reporting that the recycling rates for plastic films took a nice jump up last year of over 11%. The research organization that performed the study "attributes the gain to a combination of increased collection and more comprehensive reporting." This is pretty important news however, as plastic films are at the frontline in the battle against plastics, i.e., plastic bag bans. I see more and more opportunities of plastic collection sites, such as at the entrances of Target, Walmart and local grocery stores, so there are few excuses for everyone to not stuff the bags in there. (I happen to have a good excuse - I reuse the bags by picking up dog poop.)

But now comes the bad news. Low oil prices are putting a strain on recyclers. Since the price for virgin resins are falling, the price advantage of using recycled resin is disappearing.

Low oil prices will not last forever. The Saudi's have a lot of cash in the bank to live off of, but it won't last forever, so the strain on recyclers will also not last forever. But I am hopeful that the increase in plastic film will continue into next year and beyond.

Previous Years

March 23, 2011 - EVA vs. VAE

March 23, 2010 - Automotive Plastics

March 23, 2010 - Is this a Dagwood?

March 23, 2009 - Natureworks is expanding


bluekirby said...

I too use plastic bags to pick up dog poop, but isn't that not considered recycling because the plastic ends up in a landfill rather than being converted into another further product?

John said...

No, it's not recycling, but it still is an attractive alternative. By reusing the grocery store bag, you are putting one poop-filled bag in the landfill. By recycling the grocery store bag, you are putting a virgin, poop-filled bag in the landfill and a grocery store bag in the recycling stream. I would argue the former is a slightly more preferred path.