Fuel for Thought
Growth in plastic recycling capacity
Mar 23 2023
The petrochemical industry in Europe has seen a significant increase in plastic recycling capacity, according to a recent report by the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organizations (PRE). The report states that the industry has experienced a growth of 17% in plastic recycling capacity in the EU27+3, reaching a total capacity of 11.3 million tonnes. This increase has been made possible by investments totalling an estimated €1.75 billion, with over 730 recycling sites and 30,000 people employed in the sector.
The growth has been driven by the flexible PE & PP, PET, and rigid PE & PP polymers, which account for over 75% of the total share. Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France are the countries with the highest installed capacities, representing two-thirds of the total market, while Poland and the Netherlands have seen notable growth.
The plastic recycling industry is an essential employment generator and contributes substantially to the socio-economic welfare of the region. Increased investments and new capacities have created a strong foundation for the circular economy transition for plastics. The PRE President, Ton Emans, praised the industry's resiliency to external factors and expects that the positive growth observed today will further strengthen the market for recycled plastics towards meeting EU targets.
The increased advancements in legislation, such as the Plastics Strategy and the Single-Use Plastics Directive, have helped the recycling industry weather the challenges it has faced in recent years. However, a coherent legislative framework and its thorough implementation are critical to accelerating the transition further. The newly released proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, which calls for a comprehensive, EU-wide assessment scheme for design for recycling and sets specific recycled content targets, will help to achieve this goal.
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