U.S. plastic recycling rate drops to nearly 5% – report

WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) – The plastic waste recycling rate in the United States fell between 5% and 6% in 2021 as some countries stopped accepting U.S. waste exports and plastic waste generation reached new heights, according to a report. released on Wednesday.

The report by environmental groups Last Beach Clean Up and Beyond Plastics shows the recycling rate rose from 8.7% in 2018, the last time the Environmental Protection Agency released recycling figures.

This decline coincides with a sharp decline in exports of plastic waste, which was considered recycled plastic. China and Turkey have since implemented plastic import bans and other countries have set plastic waste contamination limits as part of the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments, which the United States States did not ratify in 2019.

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“The United States must take responsibility for managing its own plastic waste,” says the report, which used 2018 EPA, 2021 exports and recent industry data to estimate the 2021 recycling rate.

The EPA did not release its updated annual recycling rate data last year. It last released data in 2020 showing 2018 rates.

The agency received funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed last year to support local waste management infrastructure and recycling programs.

“The EPA is aware of the report and will review the data,” an EPA spokesperson said, adding that it would update its waste and recycling web page “later this year.”

Recycling rate declines as plastic waste generation soars in the United States, according to the report. Plastic waste per capita has increased from 60 pounds per year in 1980 to 218 pounds in 2018, a total increase of 263%.

The petrochemical and plastics industry is advocating for improved recycling across the country, but faces pressure to reduce its production of virgin plastic.

Last week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta launched an investigation into the role of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries in “causing and worsening the global plastic pollution crisis” and has accused the industry of “perpetuating the myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis”. L2N2WQ2LY

“Recycling doesn’t work, it never will, and no amount of misleading advertising will change that,” said report author Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator.

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Reporting by Valérie Volcovici; Editing by Lincoln Feast

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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