European Plastics Recyclers Report Strong Collection Rates

European recycling associations report an increase in PET recycling on the continent.

July 27, 2012
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Plastics

The European trade associations Petcore and EuPR have reported that European post-sorting PET collection reached 1.59 million metric tons in 2011, a 9.4 percent increase from 2010’s figures.

The two associations used the statistics from the recently released report Post Consumer PET Recycling in Europe 2011 and Prospects to 2016 was prepared for the two associations by PCI PET Packaging, Resin & Recycling Ltd.

For the 27 countries in the European Union, the collection rate increased by 2 percent, bringing the total PET recycling rate to a record 51 percent for 2011. At the same time, according to the report, for the third straight year PET exports declined.

All but three of the surveyed countries in the report have a collection rate greater than the 22.5 percent recovery goal mandated by the EU’s Packaging Waste Directive. The collection rate by country depends on the maturity and extent of their collection systems as well as economic instruments in place. At the same time, the report note that PET collection rates of more than 70 percent are being recorded by about a third of the countries surveyed.

Meanwhile, according to a release, it is estimated that there is a total mechanical reclamation capacity in the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey of around 1.9 million metric tons, meaning PET recyclers have capacity available to absorb a large increase in PET collection.

More than 50 percent of the PET collected in the EU was used to produce containers or sheet for new packaging applications in 2011. The 2011 share of fibers as an end use for recycled PET flake remained at 39 percent. The strapping market for rPET increased to slightly more than 100 kilotons.

In a release, Roberto Bertaggia, chairman of Petcore’s board, says, “I am delighted that the PET collection rate has broken the 50 percent barrier in Europe. The extra 140 kilotons collected in 2011 represents a further 5.6 billion bottles to be recycled. The PET industry chain has worked with compliance agencies, national bodies and European recyclers to achieve the record collection of nearly 1.6 million metric tons of PET bottles. We pledge to continue to develop and promote PET’s recyclability”.

Casper van den Dungen, chairman of EuPR’s PET Working Group, agrees. “Capacity utilization of our recycle plants is only 77 percent 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. Nevertheless, the new developments in PET collection must not jeopardize the sound, well-established and most recycled plastic: The PET Bottle.”

He continues, “Recycled PET is a reliable and sought-after feedstock in the PET value chain and sustainable, long life uses are being developed to utilize the growing supply of recycled PET."

Petcore (PET containers recycling Europe) is a nonprofit European trade association based in Brussels. Its mission focuses on sustainable growth for post consumer PET collection whilst supporting all PET recycling processes as a key integrated part of European Plastics Waste Management initiatives and by validating and supporting innovative PET solutions from a recycle perspective.