Plastic converters demand fell for the first time in 34 years in 2008.
Global production of plastic packaging dropped back from 260 million tonnes in 2007 to 245 million tonnes in 2008 a six per cent reduction. Plastics demand by converters in Europe fell 7.5 per cent to 48.5 million tonnes in 2008, reflecting the economic crisis.
Despite this, UK plastics packaging recycling rose two per cent in 2008, going from 24 per cent to 26 per cent, ensuring the Plastics 2020 Challenge (see MRW story) will hit its target to double plastic recycling by 2020. European exports to those outside of EU27 began to level out in 2009, reversing the deterioration in 2008. But the UK still landfills 75 per cent of its plastics.
The data was published in the plastics industry annual report, The Compelling Facts about Plastics by PlasticsEurope, European Plastics Converters, the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations and European Plastics Recyclers.
The highest demand from converters was seen in Germany, with the UK ranking fifth highest and packaging remaining the biggest end-use for plastics.
However, industry experts have warned that the plastics recycling situation in the UK could take a downturn as it is still struggling with the impact of the economic downturn.
PlasticsEurope UK regional director for the North Jan-Erik Johansson said: It has been rewarding to see all efforts to increase plastics packaging recycling over the years. The industry, local and national governments, NGOs, retailers and consumers all over Europe have all played major roles. Bridging over the difficult times caused by the crisis will need everyones contribution. We continue to strongly believe in plastics recycling and its contribution to society. We are counting on European and national decision-makers to demonstrate the same commitment.