78 PET recycling facilities located all over Europe were evaluated. The results point to a PET recycling capacity in Europe of 2.1 million tonnes for 2017. Of the total installed capacity in Europe Germany (27%), France (15%), Italy (14%) and Spain (9%) account for 65% of the PET recycling market.

Overall, 1.9 million tonnes of PET plastic waste were transformed into 1.4 million tonnes of recyclates which were used for the production of new articles. According to this data, 200.000 tonnes of PET installed capacity remains unexploited.

Casper van den Dungen, PRE Vice President and PET Working Group Chairman, said: “Given the unused installed capacities there is much room for growth in the European PET recycling market, but in order to achieve the higher recycling rates the rate of collection must be improved and quality of waste increased.”

Today, an average of 57% of PET bottles are recycled in Europe. All actors of the plastics industry must collaborate and implement the necessary measures if the recycling rate is to increase to 55% by 2030, as stipulated in the Waste Package.

New projects and business developments initiated by the industry, such as the recycling of PET trays are paving the way towards achieving the mentioned targets. These new developments paired with favourable investments will lead to growing recycling capacities in Europe. Nonetheless, PET recyclers underline the importance of increased collection and therefore availability of feedstock as a necessary condition to instigate these changes.

Casper van den Dungen emphasized: “There is a strong will from PET recyclers to increase the output of recycled material, but currently we are struggling to find enough good quality input waste. Limited collection has always been a drawback for PET recyclers. Trust shall be built in the sector in order to secure investments as well as the absorption of these new volumes of recyclates on the market.”

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