Global recycling rates appear to be on the
rise over the last few years, with recent dramatic increases being seen in the
United States and the United Kingdom.
The recent success is being seen as a testament to sustained efforts by the industries involved in reducing their environmental impact. It is hoped that this growing trend will provide much needed momentum in lowering the overall waste burden at rapidly filling landfills around the world.
Plastic Water Bottle Recycling Rate Spikes in the United States
The rate of recycling for single-serve PET water bottles has surged almost 20 percent in only one year, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
Recent data from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) showed that about 39 percent of plastic water bottles underwent recycling in the U.S. in 2011. This represents nearly a 20 percent increase from the prior year's rate of 32 percent and more than doubles the recycling rate from 2004.
NAPCOR also stated that about 500 million pounds of the bottles underwent recycling in 2011 out of a possible 1.3 billion pounds.
IBWA also provided data showing that since the year 2000, the average PET that goes into an average water bottle has fallen to 9.9 grams -- a drop of almost 50 percent.
IBWA says the bottled water industry has recently been focusing on taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint. PET plastic bottles comprise less than one percent of all plastics made in the U.S. The bottles also represent only a third of one percent of the total U.S. waste flow.
The dramatic increase in PET water bottle recycling rates, together with the gradual decrease in container weights, highlights the recent measures the bottled water industry has successfully taken to reduce its environmental footprint and improve recycling programs.
Waste Carpet Recycling Rates Surge in the United Kingdom
The diversion of carpets in the United Kingdom from landfills spiked 21 percent in 2012, a dramatic increase of 30 percent over the previous year's rate of 17 percent. About 85,000 tons of carpet were shifted from UK landfills last year, according to CRUK. They have already set a 25 percent target diversion rate for 2015.
CRUK further stated that about 36,000 tons of the 85,000 tons diverted were reused or recycled, and 49,000 tons were sent for energy recovery in power generation plants and cement kilns. They also said that there was a 44 percent increase in energy recovery, which represented 15,000 tons.
The rate of waste carpet recycling increased by 12 percent in 2012, as new recycling centers were established and existing ones grew.
Laurance Bird, the director of CRUK, said that the results represent a sustained focus in the capture of increasing waste tonnages, as well as business dedication towards new recycling facilities for carpet waste.
Bird estimates that 78 percent of carpet waste winds up in landfills. He said their 2013 goals will continue to increase the recycling rates of carpet waste by utilizing a number of measures, such as encouragement from local authorities.
CRUK's goals for 2013 also include a 24 percent target for landfill diversion, and the increase of recycling and energy recovery facilities. This should result in improved choice and transport logistics throughout the UK.
One laminate flooring installation company in Miami is keeping pace with the carpet recycling rates in the UK. With 5 billion pounds of carpet waste produced each year, US Wood Flooring is committed to recycling the tens of thousands of pounds of carpet that they dispose of.
In the coming decade, recycling rates are expected to slow the growth of landfills globally as more small businesses take up environmental practices.