Plastics recycling industry continues rapid push to meet EU targets

Peter von Bechen,

The total installed plastics recycling capacity in 2020 in the EU27+3 increased by 1.1 million tonnes compared to the previous year. The new figures show that the plastics recycling industry remains resilient as it continues its journey towards truly circular plastics manufacturing. The exceptional growth of the sector, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, was possible thanks to the explosion in demand driven, among other things, by the new legislative objectives.

The dataset shows that PET, soft PO, and rigid HDPE and PP retain the largest share of overall plastics recycling capacity, accounting for almost 80%. Additionally, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and France have the highest plastic waste recycling capacities.

Rigid HDPE & PP saw the highest increase in recycling capacity, with a rate of over 20%, while for soft PO it increased by around 10%. Rapid technological developments in collection, sorting and recycling have been among the factors that have facilitated these developments. “The new business models open up a wide range of opportunities in our industry,” said Ton Emans, President of Plastic Recyclers Europe. “This is the case with film-to-film recycling – once deemed difficult and now a testament to the maturing of the market,” he added.

With a turnover of €7.7 billion and a total of 9.6 million tonnes of installed recycling capacity, European recyclers are an essential piece of the puzzle in the fight against plastic waste and play a important in contributing to a carbon-neutral Europe. Full legislative support would unlock additional tonnages of high-quality collection and sorting while encouraging investment in recycling technologies and infrastructure leading to a tripling of plastics recycling capacity by 2030.

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