According to a new study that was recently published by Plastics Recyclers Europe, Petcore Europe, NMWE and UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, the PET collection, recycling and production rates in Europe have continued to improve over the last two years, since the previous report appeared.
The biannual report, entitled The PET Markets in Europe: State of Play. Collection, Production and Recycling Data 2022, revealed substantial growth, especially within the PET recycling market, with an overall increase of 21% in installed capacity. In 2020, a total of 2.8mt of PET was recycled in the 27 EU member states and UK, Norway, Switzerland, and an estimated 1.7 mt of flakes produced.
Major rPET packaging applications were trays and sheets, which accounted for a 32% share and food contact bottles (29%). Producers’ pledges and goals, combined with the EU mandatory targets for recycled content in bottle packaging are expected to further bolster both demand and the growth of this share.
Outside of packaging, rPET also finds applications in fibres (24%), strapping (8%) and in injection moulding (1%), followed by other applications (2%).
Moreover, by 2025, 19 EU Member States are expected to have Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) in place for PET bottles, which will further boost recycling rates. In the seven EU Member States with established DRS, recycling rates of 83% or higher are achieved.
As a result, driven also in part by the EU Single Use Plastics Directive, which requires each member state to achieve a 77% collection rate for beverage bottles by 2025 and 90% by 2029, collection figures, as well as quality, will increase substantially in the lead-up to 2025.
To meet the 90% collection rate and the mandatory recycled content targets, will be a challenge that can be met only by realising an expansion in recycling capacity of at least one-third by 2029.
Moreover, say the compilers of the report, further innovation, as well as support from the EU policymakers and more robust data sources are all needed in the packaging value chain to ensure progress towards the targets is achieved and measured. This will require the further harmonisation and implementation of best practices for collection, sorting and design for recycling with the European PET value chain.