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Plastics recycling: We do need some education

Turns out rock band Pink Floyd was wrong, certainly with respect to the public's need for more information on recycling of plastics. At this week's Plastics Recycling 2010 conference in Austin, TX, there is an overwhelming consensus that, indeed, we do need some education.

Other issues concern the plastics recyclers attending the event. Securing a steady supply of suitable material is at the top of the list, but here again all agree that improved education of consumers would help mightily. Georgina Sikorski, director of CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort), spoke for the group when she said, "The biggest challenge for us is educating consumers, educating consumers, and educating consumers," leaving little doubt where emphasis needs to be placed. 

John Challinar, directorate of corporate affairs at Nestle Waters Canada, agreed, and also argued that a bottle deposit law is not necessary to prompt successful recovery and recycling of post-consumer recyclate (PCR). He said his company is looking at development of a 100% PCR-PET bottle, but its efforts are unlikely to leave the test lab "due to an insufficient supply of R-PET [recycled polyethylene terephthalate]," he said.  

Plastics recyclers have a tough lot but at least they generally have no concerns on the demand side of the equation—quite the opposite, in fact, noted Mike Shedler, director of technology at Napcor (National Assn. for PET Container Resources). "There is a phenomenal pent-up demand for this recyclate," he said. "The problem now is getting it." Napcor, first formed with the mission to serve PET bottle processors and their customers, in 2007 opened its membership to processors of thermoformed PET containers and now counts 10 of them on its rolls.—[email protected]

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