OVER 66 BILLION PET BOTTLES RECYCLED IN EUROPE IN 2014

Recent Petcore Europe report on collection and recycling of postconsumer PET reveals successes and challenges.

The equivalent of 66 billion 1.5-liter polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles were collected and recycled in 2014, representing 57 percent of bottles and containers placed in the market, according to a report issued by Petcore Europe, based in Brussels.

The report was conducted PCI PET Packaging Resin & Recycling Ltd. for Petcore Europe from a survey of entities involved in the collection, sorting and recycling of PET across Europe.

“PET collection and recycling continue to increase and to be a success story over the last 25 years,” says Petcore Europe Executive Director Patrick Peuch. “PET is by far the most recycled plastic material in Europe. However, we can do even better and actively contribute to the European Circular Economy, especially as PET now penetrates new applications.”

The results will be presented during the Petcore Europe Conference in Brussels on November 24.

According to the report, the collection of PET bottles and containers in Europe in 2014 grew by close to 7 percent from 2013, to a level of 1.8 million metric tons, compared to 2013.

Comparing this number to an estimated demand level of 3.1 million metric tons of bottles and containers placed in the market during this period suggests a 57 percent collection rate. In 2014, the growth in PET demand itself increased by 4.8 percent, according to Petcore Europe.

“Although the collection rate increased by 1.3 percent over the 2013 rate, it clearly illustrates the need for a two-sided approach,” says Patrick Peuch. “On one hand, our industry has to work together to align the collection processes to deliver increased recycling objectives. On the other hand, consumers have to be more engaged. Raising consumers’ awareness on the importance of collection and the value of recycling, especially in the context of the European Commission Circular Economy approach, and their own role in the process are key.”

Furthermore, collection rates vary considerably across Europe, with a number of member states exceeding the average level of 57percent while several others continue to lag behind, the association says.

According to the report, in 2014, 1,7 million metric tons of PET were recycled in Europe. With an installed processing capacity estimated to be around 2.1 million metric tons, the recycling industry operating rate reached 79 percent, compared with the 83 percent operating rate of 2013. The decrease illustrates the challenges that the PET industry faced in 2014, Petcore says, in particular the pricing throughout the rPET (recycled PET) chain and pressure from low virgin PET resin prices that occurred during the last quarter of the year.

Furthermore, the processed PET volume in 2014 was also below the collection volume. According to the survey participants, this difference results from process losses, maintenance shut-downs and production schedules being adjusted to available bale supplies.

In fact, issues related to bale supplies was cited as one of the main contributing factors to lower productivity in 2014.

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