PET bottle recycling in Europe remained steady in the year 2017, according to a joint survey by ICIS and Petcore Europe.
The European PET Recycle Industry survey found that out of 3.3 million tonnes of PET bottles and containers placed in the European market in 2017, 58.2% – in total 1.92 million tonnes – were collected, representing a 2.9% increase compared to the year before.
Of that amount, 1.74 million tonnes were processed, showing a slight decrease compared to 1.77 million tonnes in 2016.
According to a Petcore statement on 19 Dec, collection rates varied significantly across regions – from highs of 90-95% in countries like Germany and Finland to less than 30-40% in the Mediterranean countries or central-eastern European states.
The recovery rate, said Petcore, has been influenced by different methods of waste collection and sorting, including deposit return schemes, kerbside collection and collection points.
The survey also noted an increase in PET trays and opaques in clear and transparent PET bales, which could negatively affect the quality of the reprocessed flakes.
According to Petcore, the share of PET trays in clear bales varied from country to country and ranged from 1 % up to 12-18 %.
The quality of collected PET has also, in part, impacted utilisation rates at recycling facilities, which saw an unused capacity of nearly 300,000 tonnes across Europe.
"Today, all PET beverage bottles and most PET trays are designed to be recycled. European PET recyclers currently have an unused capacity of 296.400 tonnes,” said Christian Crépet, executive director of Petcore Europe.
In 2017, sheets segment remained the biggest market for rPET, consuming 40% of recycled PET in the market. This was followed by blow-moulding applications and fibres which accounted for 29.5% and 15.5% of consumption respectively. The remaining 15% was used for strapping and other applications.
In view of the figures, Petcore director Crépet called for a harmonised European-wide collection system, saying it was “necessary” in order to meet the demands. He did not elaborate further on the details of the harmonised system.
Petcore Europe will present the complete survey results during its upcoming conference in Brussels, 6-7 Feb 2019.