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Allyson Wilson
(202) 249-6623

Jennifer Killinger
(202) 249-6619

While plastics recycling rates in the U.S. are continuing to increase, innovative manufacturers are using an emerging set of technologies to transform non-recycled plastics into alternative fuels and feedstock materials for new manufacturing. We call the processes by which solid waste is converted into energy or feedstocks “energy recovery.”

A range of energy recovery technologies are being used to complement recycling in helping to divert more valuable post-use materials from landfills. Some of the most widely used and rapidly emerging technologies include waste-to-energy, plastics-to-fuels, gasification, and solid recovery fuels.

Energy recovery is happening right now, powering homes and businesses, and it’s helping to address our growing population’s biggest challenges: energy independence, waste diversion, and climate change.

Did you know...?

  • Plastics are high value “captured energy,” with significantly more captured energy than wood, paper or even coal.
  • The United States currently processes 13 percent of its solid waste, recovering enough energy to power homes in five states or the equivalent of 28.6 billion barrels of crude oil.
  • Energy recovery facilities can play an important role in waste diversion. Established energy recovery facilities can reduce by 80 percent the volume of waste that goes to landfill.
  • Modern energy recovery facilities are greener than ever. Today’s technology allows them  to process waste with many emissions lower than some conventional fuels processed in power plants. In fact, EPA estimates that energy recovery technology in use today helps prevent the release of 33 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

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Research and Information:

Energy Recovery Fact Sheet - June 2015

Our fact sheet, "Converting Non-Recycled Waste to Energy and Fuels looks at how Plastics-to-Fuel technologies can help provide energy solutions.

Economic Impact of Plastics to Fuel in the United States

In this report, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) explores the potential impact that building plastics-to-oil (PTO) facilities in the U.S. could have on economic output and job creation.

The Power of Waste

This infographic highlights findings of the study, "2014 Energy and Economic Value of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), including and Non-recycled Plastics (NRP).

Diverting Plastics From Landfill: A Two Pronged Approach

his infographic highlights the ways that energy recovery and recycling can work together, illustrating the life-cycle of recycling used plastics and turning non-recycled plastics into energy using energy recovery. 

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Plastics Statistics

The Plastics Industry Producers Statistics Group (PIPS) provides relevant, timely, comprehensive and extensive business statistics on the plastic resins industry.