The European plastics recycling industry must double in capacity by 2030 to meet targets.
That warning has come from consultancy AMI, which said achieving this would be helped by a desire among companies to be perceived as ’green’ but made more difficult by the unpredictable nature of the plastics industry.
“With prices of recyclate intrinsically linked to the price of virgin resin, demand and the financial viability of the process is often subject to fluctuations in raw material prices,” AMI said in its report Plastics Recycling in Europe.
“Due to this, demand for recyclate is increasingly coming down to brand owners’ desire to be seen as ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘green’ and not down to financial incentives.”
Sustainability was becoming increasingly more important to consumers and plastic was receiving negative media coverage, not least because of the danger of material leaking into the ecosystem.
AMI said developments in mechanical recycling technology were changing the shape of the plastics recycling industry and increasing its ability to recover more material in a closed loop.
“Currently, due to quality and inconsistent supply, large volumes of recyclate are still going to lower value applications,” it said.
The report said that while polyethylene is the most recycled polymer in Europe, PET had the highest capture rate of plastics waste because it was more often collected by consumers.
It said that PET drinks bottle collection rates could reach 96% where deposit legislation was in place.