Dallas, TX (PRWEB) November 29, 2012
US demand for post-consumer recycled plastics is forecast to rise 5.9 percent per year to 3.4 billion pounds in 2016. Gains will be driven by a number of factors, including a growing emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer product manufacturers, advancements in processing and sorting technologies allowing a wider variety of plastic to be recycled, and an improved collection infrastructure that raises the plastic recycling rate. Continued support by federal, state, and local governments for recycling efforts will also provide a significant boost to recycled plastics market including collection, processing, and demand.
However, the overall rate of plastic recycling in the US will remain relatively low -- 6.5 percent of total plastic demand in 2016 -- as the industry faces a number of challenges. Recycling is minimal in several major plastic markets, including construction products, motor vehicles (other than batteries), and packaging film, due to a lack of collection capability or economical processing. Export sales (particularly to China) siphon off a substantial portion of plastic scrap, and much of what is processed domestically has high levels of contamination. As a result, only 53 percent of the plastic collected for recycling makes its way to manufactured products in the US market.
Bottles will remain the leading source of plastic for recycling, accounting for about half of all plastic collected in 2016. The well established collection infrastructure, including deposit laws in several states, makes bottles one of the most widely recycled plastic products. More rapid gains, however, are forecast for other sources, particularly rigid plastics, film, and carpet. The recycling industry has put significant efforts into increasing the collection of rigid plastic, including thermoformed packaging and bulk containers, particularly at the commercial level. Bag and film recycling will also be bolstered by private industry collection initiatives, as these are a key source of raw materials for plastic bag and woodplastic composite producers.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) were the two leading resins used in recycled plastic products in 2011, accounting for over 70 percent of demand. While PET will see above average gains in demand, fueled by rising recycled content in beverage bottles and thermoformed containers, subpar increases in HDPE collection will limit demand for recycled resin. The most rapid growth is forecast for low density polyethylene, which will benefit from a rebound in the construction market, as well as smaller volume resins such as polypropylene and nylon.
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The US wipes industry enjoyed several years of high growth as a spate of new products were launched during the late 1990s and through the middle of the first decade of the new century. Similar to other industries, however, wipes were impacted by the 2007-2009 recession. During this time, the wipes market faced a shrinking manufacturing base, as well as consumers economizing by either using private label wipes (limiting sales at the retail level), shifting away from several task-specific wipes to one general-purpose product, or returning to traditional cleaning methods (e.g., chemical sprays and rags). However, wipes producers were unable to pass on all increases in raw material costs, reducing profit margins and keeping average prices low.
Going forward, wipes will benefit from ongoing improvements in the economy, such as a rebound in manufacturing activity and an acceleration in consumer spending. In general, wipes will continue to benefit from features such as ease-ofuse, disposability, portability, and reduced risk of cross-contamination. While disposability has been a primary advantage in the growth of the wipes market, it also has the potential of being a restraining factor as more consumers become attuned to environmental concerns such as biodegradability and recyclability. As such, product innovations are increasingly centered on the incorporation of recycled fibers, natural ingredients, or biodegradable materials, which boost value gains.
Convenience, consumer acceptance and innovation will remain driving forces in the consumer market, with personal hygiene and general purpose household cleaning wipes projected to register the fastest gains. Growth in general purpose disinfectant wipes will be propelled by the appeal of one-step, disposable wipes that provide a quick and convenient format for household cleaning chores. These wipes also offer a fast and easy cleaning alternative for consumers with little free time. Personal hygiene wipes will enjoy increased market penetration. For example, the concept of wet bathroom tissue as part of a standard bathroom routine is gaining acceptance, especially since the industry has become diligent on developing not only flushable but dispersible products. Gains in the infant population will benefit the large baby wipes category. However, consumers who used baby wipes for non-diaper applications during the recession will return to task-specific wipes.
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