A September report from waste disposal and recycling giant Waste Management (WM) shows issues with recycling infrastructure in the United States.
According to the report, the northeastern United States have very few reclamation facilities for some common types of plastic such as polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The report notes that there are only four PET reclamation facilities, and no PP reclamation facilities northeast of Virginia. This leaves one of the most densely populated areas in the country without facilities to process many common types of plastic.
From coverage in Waste Dive:
“The report shows the dire situation for recycling post-consumer PP#5 due to lack of processing capacity in most of the country,” said Jan Dell, an independent engineer with The Last Beach Cleanup, via email. “Unless the plastic, product and retail companies who profit from the sales of PP#5 products directly invest in significant processing capacity in all regions and guarantee recyclers a sufficient, long term price for collecting and sorting PP#5, it will not happen as public and consumer funding is nonexistent due to the economic crisis.“
According to Waste Management, more than 28% of MRF processing capacity (the equivalent of 6.6 million tons of material) in the U.S. is not being utilized. The New York-New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic areas have the highest shares of open capacity. Sizable open capacity also exists in the Pacific Southwest and the Southeast, followed by smaller amounts in every other area – except New England and the Midwest, which are largely full.
For more information, view the full report.