[GRRN] Number of plastic bottles

John Reindl (reindl@co.dane.wi.us)
Fri, 21 May 1999 12:37:59 -0600

I had recently posted a message on the list asking for the number of
plastic containers sold, produced or used in the US annually, similar to
such data for metal cans and glass containers. Members of the list
asked that I post my findings.

After checking a number of reference sources and talking with people at
a trade associations, it appears that such numbers are not available for
plastic containers. One of the difficulties is that the size of plastic
containers varies so much that making such a calculation would involve
a lot of data collection on the types and sizes of containers made, which
is not currently done.

As an indication of a probable size of the number of containers made,
however, it is noted that plastic container resin production in the US is
on the order of 7 billion pounds a year. For soda bottles, custom PET
bottles and milk bottles (over half of all plastic containers by weight),
there are 8-10 containers per pound of resin. Given the range of
containers from yogurt and pill containers to 5 gallon buckets, an
average for the rest of the material is hard to find. But if we pick 8
containers per pound of resin, that comes to about 55 billion containers
a year.

Hope this helps. Any more detailed information would be appreciated.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI

(608)267-1533 - fax
(608)267-8815 - phone