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Recycling Indus try Yearbook

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.


The manufacture and distribution of plastics is everywhere.

Between 2005 and 2015, the global production of plastics

grew from 230 million tons to 322 million tons. With the

explosive growth in the

manufacture of plastics comes

the need to ensure that these

materials are recycled in an


manner once they reach

the end of their useful lives.

PlasticsEurope reports that

7.7 million tons of plastics

were recycled globally in

2014, including more than 3.5

million tons of post-industrial

and post-consumer plastic

scrap that were recycled in the

United States, according to ISRI estimates. In addition, recycling

of engineered and industrial plastics present tremendous

opportunities that demonstrate plastics recycling today is

“Bigger Than the Bin.”

From an environmental perspective, recycled plastic can

provide enormous benefits over the use of its virgin counter-

parts. For example, plastic lumber made with scrap plastic bags,

and other materials, conserves

trees and eliminates the need to

use hazardous chemicals to treat

wood that will be used outdoors.

According to the U.S. EPA, plastic

recycling results in significant

energy savings (an estimated

50–75 MBtus/ton of material

recycled) compared with

production of new plastics using

virgin material.

Despite the ubiquity of plastics,

plastic recycling is still a young industry because no one really

thought about recycling when plastics were first put into use.

The technology to cost-effectively sort and recycle plastics has

been developed in just the past 25 years.