Some 51% of PET bottles in Europe were collected for recycling in 2011, a new record, according to a new report.
“I am delighted that the PET collection rate has broken the 50% barrier in Europe” said Roberto Bertaggia, chairman of the board of Petcore, the Brussels-based European PET bottle recycling association, in a news release.
“The PET industry chain has worked with compliance agencies, national bodies and European recyclers to achieve the record collection of nearly 1.6m tonnes of PET bottles. We pledge to continue to develop and promote PET's recyclability,” he said.
Net exports of PET bales to the Far East fell for the third year running, according to the report from Petcore and European Plastics Recyclers (EuPR), another Brussels-based trade group.
But recyclers in Europe still have capacity to handle more material, according to Casper van den Dungen, chairman of EuPR's PET working group.
“Capacity utilization of our recycle plants is only 77% at present. This provides the challenge for municipalities, other collectors and industry to increase the current collection rate even further to load the recycling facilities already in place,” he said.
Recycling rates vary widely in Europe, with collection rates of over 70% in about a third of the countries surveyed.
More than 50% of the PET recycled in Europe is used to make containers or sheet for new packaging. The next-highest end market, fiber, accounts for 39% of the total.