A new study by the North American Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), based in Washington, has found significant reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions linked to using recycled plastics in manufacturing new products.
Industry research consultants Franklin Associates, a division of ERG, Lexington, Massachusetts, prepared the report, “Life cycle impacts for postconsumer recycled resins: PET, HDPE and PP.”
The report examines recycling processes for three of the most common types of plastics recycled today: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP).
According to the report, using recycled plastic reduced total energy consumption by 79 percent for PET, by 88 percent for HDPE and by eight percent for PP. Using recycled plastics also limited emissions by 67 percent for PET, by 71 percent for HDPE and by 71 percent for PP.
Franklin Associates analysed the energy requirements and environmental impacts of postconsumer recycled plastics as compared with virgin plastics.
The analysis is an update and expansion of a recycled resin study the company completed in 2011 for the APR quantifying the total energy requirements, energy sources, atmospheric pollutants, waterborne pollutants and solid waste that result from producing recycled PET and HDPE from post-consumer plastic.
Steve Alexander, APR president, said the study shows a win-win for companies who incorporate recycled plastic resin into their new products.
“They can improve the environmental sustainability of their products and processes and reduce their energy costs.
“It demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of the full recycling chain for plastic goods – a chain that starts with companies manufacturing recyclable products and ends with consumers buying products made from recycled materials,” he said.
“This report clearly demonstrates the benefits of a renewed commitment to plastic recycling,” said Jamie Camara, CEO of Mexico-based PetStar and chair of The APR board of directors.
“It is critical that North America continues to invest in our recycling infrastructure so that we can expand the material that is collected, sorted and processed for second use. Recycling and using recycled materials are good for manufacturers, consumers and the planet.”