Non-bottle plastic recycling up 33%

Recycling of plastics apart from bottles increased dramatically in 2009, the last available year for statistics, according to a new report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

The ACC report looks at rigid plastics for non-bottle applications, including tubs, cups, crates and pallets, as well as non-packaging applications like durable goods. The report said 479 million pounds of postconsumer non-bottle rigid plastic was recovered in 2009, an increase of 33% over 2008 and of 47% since 2007. It contrasts with a mere 3.6% increase in overall solid waste recycling from 2005 to 2008.

The report attributed the increase to both better recovery of non-bottle plastics, and better reporting of the collection data by recyclers and other companies.

In terms of resins, the largest component among non-bottle rigid plastics was high-density polyethylene (HDPE), at 16.8 million pounds, followed by polypropylene at 128.6 million and “other/mixed” at 127 million.

The ACC report noted that demand for recycled plastic of all types was affected by the recession, specifically the global monetary crises that hit at the end of 2008. Prices for recycled plastic hit record highs in the summer of 2008 but soon plunged, then climbed back to only two-thirds of that record. The report noted, however, that “current pricing and demand is strong and steady.”

The report suggested several factors in the recycling marketplace that need to improve for non-bottle recycling to continue to grow, including better terminology and bale specifications for this material from recyclers, and clear education of consumers about recycling non-bottle plastics.

Oil hikes drive up plastic costs

Petroleum-based products have become more expensive thanks to unrest in the Middle East, and plastic resin is no different.

Turmoil in Libya and other nations in the oil-producing region has driven the price of oil past $100 a barrel. That has contributed to increases in resin prices charged by large producers. DuPont recently announced an increase of up to 15%, depending on grade, effective April 1.

However, other factors are at work, says Gene Tanski, president of Demand Foresight, a supplier of supply-chain management software.

“Libya has had a negligible impact to date-it has really been the overall perception of Middle East instability that has introduced such a large risk premium into the current oil price,” Tanski says. “But another issue is pricing power for the suppliers – DuPont, LyondellBasell – they have a lot of market share and so have more control on pricing than in other industries.”

Tanski notes that resin prices are highly susceptible to oil shocks in the short term. Most petroleum becomes fuel, with only up to about 5% used for plastic feedstock. As fuel prices fluctuate, they pull resin prices along with them.

However, longer-term factors might decouple resin prices from oil prices to some extent, Tanski noted. Among them are package converting equipment and techniques that can use different resin grades depending on price, and increased use of bio-based and other synthetic materials.

BRIEFS

The Packaging and Label Gravure Association Global has awarded Printpack first place in the flexible packaging, film/film lamination process category for the Wonka Wondrously Whirled Waterfall Bar.

Polymer developer Chemsultants Int’l  has hired Mike Hilston as a research chemist and Jack Yeary as a quality specialist.

Packaging Solutions Holdings  has acquired Excel Pac, a manufacturer of flexible packaging in the food, dairy and pet food markets.

SIG Combibloc, a supplier of carton-filling equipment, has announced plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in its production plants worldwide by 40%, energy consumption by 35% and specific waste volumes by 25%. It also plans to increase the percentage of FSC-labeled carton packs to 40% by 2015.

Susan Edwards, manager of foodservice and corporate chef at Sealed Air Cryovac, has been elected to the board of directors of the Research Chefs Assn.

The Aagard Group, a supplier of case packers, cartoners and other packaging equipment, has hired Steve Mulder as vice president of operations.

Exopack Advanced Coatings  recently opened a distribution center in Guangzhou, China.

PMMI  has announced that it will provide staff support to further the mission of OMAC, the Organization for Machine Automation and Control. PMMI’s support will enable OMAC’s volunteer leadership to expand its membership domestically and internationally, plus engage customer and supplier teams in further developing OMAC standards, including PackML.

Magnetic Products Inc., a supplier of both magnetic and non-magnetic material handling equipment, has hired Jack Smylie as director of sales and marketing.

The National Meat Assn.  has conferred its 2011 Supplier of the Year award on Multivac Inc. Bob Koch, director of sales for Multivac’s food division, was singled out for his professionalism and long service to the meat and poultry industries.

Harrisburg, Pa.-based marketing agency Pavone  has been named a preferred design agency with The Hershey Co. for 2011. Although Pavone and Hershey have worked together on projects in the past, this is the first time the food and beverage marketing firm has received the preferred agency designation.

Material distributor xpedx, a unit of International Paper, has announced a new network of seven package design centers with the opening of centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Rochester, N.Y., and the expansion of existing design centers in Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Juarez, Mexico.

Brand management agency Sun Branding Solutions  has appointed Jim Burk to head its new business development team in North America.