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U.S. Glass Bottle Market: Growing Demand and Short Supply Are Driving Recycling


U.S. Glass Bottle Market: Growing Demand and Short Supply Are Driving Recycling

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. Glass Bottle And Container Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The U.S. glass bottle market is running into a supply shortage caused by high demand for alcohol, raw materials being reallocated to produce vaccine vials and supply-chain disruptions arising from the shipping-container crisis. Confronted with a labor shortage, the increased demand for glass could incentivize developments in recycling with substantial potential for growth because currently, only 31% of glass bottles in the U.S. are recycled.

Key Trends and Insights

IndexBox calculates that in 2020, the U.S. market of glass bottles and containers grew by 0.6%, reaching about 4.4M tonnes or $6.7B in monetary terms. Approximately 25% of the American market is supplied by foreign products, mainly from Mexico (29% of total U.S. imports), China (18%) and Taiwan (10%).

Despite imports rising to $1.6B in the first ten months of this year (+22% compared to the same period in 2020), the U.S. is facing a glass bottle deficit. Beverage producers must search for alternatives such as plastic packaging. The key factors causing this shortfall are the high demand for alcohol and the increasing number of recycled bottles used for producing glass vials for vaccines. Another factor inciting the scarcity of glass bottles is the supply chain disruption in Asia, rising from a deficit in shipping containers.

There is excellent potential to increase glass recycling and expand the raw material base in the U.S. Since glass is 100% recyclable, implementing a recycling process could replace up to 95% of first-use materials with second-use. Even though in the past 40 years, the amount of recycled material grew by a factor of four, the EPA calculates that recycled glass only accounts for a 31% share. In these conditions, second-use products are used in 40% of beer and non-alcoholic beverage bottles, 40% of wine and alcoholic beverage bottles and 15% for food and other glass bottles. In 2018, there was a total of 12.3M tonnes of waste glass, but only 3M was recycled while at the same time, wasted glass amounted to 7.6M.

Over 40 factories are currently focused on production, and more than 60 operate for processing (recycling) glass in the U.S. During the existing labour shortage, the high demand could drive developments in far more cost-effective technologies, such as a Curbside Recycling System. According to the Container Recycling Institute, Curbside Recycling of 1000 tonnes of glass would require about 8 personnel while at the same time using a Deposit Return System is from 11 to 38 times more labour-intensive.

U.S. Glass Bottle Imports 

Glass bottle and container imports into the U.S. totaled 1.6M tonnes in 2020, growing by 2.3% on 2019 figures. In value terms, the purchases reached $1.4B (IndexBox estimates).

Mexico (436K tonnes), China (339K tonnes) and Taiwan (Chinese) (188K tonnes) were the leading suppliers to the U.S., together comprising 61% of total volume. Canada, France, India, Germany, Italy, Chile, Poland and Turkey lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 26%.

In value terms, Mexico ($450M), China ($252M) and Taiwan (Chinese) ($122M) constituted 57% of the total imports. These countries were followed by Canada, France, Italy, Germany, India, Poland, Chile and Turkey, which together accounted for a further 31%.

The average glass bottle and container import price stood at $911 per tonne in 2020, dropping by -1.8% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Italy ($2,094 per tonne), while the price for Turkey ($387 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. Last year, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Poland, while the prices for the other significant suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform