Are there are domestic markets for non-bottle container bales?
Yes. The APR Buyers and Sellers Information lists APR members in North America that purchase bales containing non-bottle containers. North America is home to both experienced reprocessors and plastic recycling facilities (PRFs) that have established purchasing specifications and consistently procure these bales to recycle domestically. A proven domestic market, motivated by brand owner demand for polypropylene postconsumer resin, has confirmed there is no need to export non-bottle container bales. APR developed a map identifying the North American Buyers of Non-Bottle Containers Bales to assist MRFs and Municipalities.
Do non-bottle containers represent a large enough portion of the waste stream to bother recycling them?
Yes. The largest percentage of non-bottle containers is polypropylene (PP), which is a high value commodity. The 2014 National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report conducted by The American Chemistry Council identifies almost 40% of all non-bottle rigid plastic recovered as PP. In addition, bottles and many other applications have switched from being manufactured from other resins to PP. In terms of resin choice in packaging and volume in the recycling bin, PP is proving to be the fastest growing resin in North America. As municipalities increase their collection “Beyond Bottles,” MRFs are seeing more PP in their streams and easily finding eager markets to purchase non-bottle container bales containing PP.
Are there markets for PET thermoforms?
Yes. Many PET markets will take up to 10% PET thermoforms in their bales, and it is estimated that PET thermoforms in the marketplace are below that level. PET cups and containers can be recovered in either a “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale or a “PET Bottle” bale. Communities and MRFs are encouraged to talk to their PET bottle markets to see if they will accept PET thermoforms in their bottle bales. Many reclaimers accept thermoforms on a per-supplier basis, particularly from MRFs with automated sorting of PET.
Is there end use market demand for the resins from non-bottle container bales?
Yes. Because Consumer Brand Companies are actively seeking PP postconsumer resin to incorporate into their packaging, they are looking for opportunities to grow the supply chain. This strong demand for postconsumer PP for applications ranging from personal care, household items, automotive, recreation, and agricultural products results in a demand for non-bottle container bales. In fact, a 2015 APR Fit for Use PP Demand Survey indicated that 21 North American manufacturers reported a demand for over 275 million pounds of non-food grade PP recycled resin. This demand strengthens the marketplace for non-bottle containers.
Are non-bottle container bales a true commodity, or are PET and HDPE bottle bales the only commodities that have value in the plastics recycling markets?
Non-bottle container bales are a true commodity. Because of the high volume of PP in non-bottle container bales, domestic markets have confirmed that non-bottle rigid container bales have consistent and ongoing value.
MRFs may use APR’s Sort for Value Online Calculator to compare the value of the various plastic sorting options to help them understand the impact of increased sortation.