PET collection and recycling rates increased significantly in Europe in 2016

PET bottleOut of 3,147,000 tonnes of PET bottles and containers placed on the European market in 2016, 59.8%—1,8080,900 tonnes—were collected with 1,773,200 tonnes mechanically recycled, according to the summary of a new survey from Petcore Europe (Brussels). The full survey results will be presented in more detail during the annual Petcore Europe Conference 2018 taking place in Brussels on Feb. 7 and 8, 2018.

The summary conclusions come from the annual PCI Wood Mackenzie PET recycle survey for West Europe in 2016, commissioned by Petcore Europe. It shows that 128,400 more tonnes of PET were collected and 120,000 more tonnes were recycled compared with 2014.

“These PET collection and recycling rates are unreached in the plastics packaging industry, and it is worth mentioning that PET recyclers still have unexploited capacities for recycling,” stated Paola Arlotti from Equipolymers, Petcore Europe President. “The figures clearly outline the crucial role of PET in a circular economy and for reaching the plastics recycling targets currently discussed on the EU level.”

When it comes to country-specific figures, the survey reveals that the combined volumes reported for France, Germany and Italy represent 47.9% of the total volume collected in the region, continuing the gradual decline in share of the top three: 48.5% in 2015 and 53.3% in 2011. These three largest countries in terms of collection volumes are now joined by two other countries that contribute a significant proportion of the regional total, namely Spain and the UK. The combined total share of these five countries in overall EU collection accounts for 70.9%.

The survey outlines a slightly more positive picture for clear bottles compared to the previous years. Clear bottles accounted for 17.3% of the complete stream, an increase of 2.1% over the 2014 share and the first increase in share in five years.

“This is an encouraging sign for recyclers and hopefully this increased share is set to continue,” stated Christian Crepet, Petcore Europe Executive Director. “However, the quality of bales with a total share of 26.4% clear/light blue bottles; 25.5% mixed colors including green/brown bottles; and 30.8% of unspecified mixed colors clearly continues to challenge the recycling industry. Therefore, we believe that there is a vital need for a detailed analysis of the unspecified waste stream, which will be part of the 2018 study commissioned by Petcore Europe.”

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