PET collection and recycling rates ‘increased significantly’ in western Europe last year, according to the association that represents the European PET value chain.
A survey commissioned by Petcore Europe and conducted by PCI Wood Mackenzie found that, of almost 3.15 million tonnes of PET that entered the European market, 59.8% was collected – amounting to a total of 1.88 million tonnes – and nore than 1.77 million tonnes was subsequently recycled.
Both rates were up by between 7.3% and 7.4%. The increase means that 120,000 extra tonnes of PET was recycled in 2016 compared with two years before.
Petcore Europe president Paola Arlotti said: “These PET collection and recycling rates are unreached in the plastics packaging industry, while it is worth mentioning that PET recyclers still have unexploited capacities for recycling. The figures clearly outline the crucial role of PET in a circular economy and for reaching the plastics recycling targets currently discussed on EU level.”
The three largest countries in terms of PET collection rates – France, Germany and Italy – continued their gradual decline in total share of European PET collection. They accounted for 47.9% of total volume collected in the region last year, down from 53.3% in 2011.
Spain and the UK have improved their PET collection in recent years. The five countries account for over 70% of overall PET collection in the EU.
Clear bottles accounted for 17.3% of the complete stream – an increase of 2.1% on 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,” said Christian Crepet, Petcore Europe executive director. “However, the quality of bales… clearly continues to challenge the recycling industry.”
More than a quarter (26.4%) of waste PET collected was made up of clear or light blue bottles, 25.5% were mixed colours including green and brown bottles, and 30.8% were unspecified mixed colours.
“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,” Crepet continued.