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Bottle-to-bottle recycling in Europe on the rise

A strong trend towards the use of recycled PET in Europe is projected in a new report from Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), the voice of the Europe’s plastics recycling industry, together with Petcore Europe and bottled water producers body EFBW.

Significant improvements have been made in recycling processes and, with the increasing quality of materials, rPET could reach as much as 55% of total PET demand by 2030, says the report. ‘This is particularly evident for food-grade rPET used in bottle-to-bottle processes, where incentives such as the producers’ voluntary pledges and rPET content targets set in the EU Single Use Plastics Directive (25% by 2025) are set to further accelerate the production.’

The market for trays and sheets, which currently absorbs 20% of rPET, is also considered in the report. It is estimated that the average recycled content of PET trays produced in Europe is 50% and this trend is set to continue.

Big barriers

The main obstacles identified are collection methods and designing for recycling. To achieve the 90% EU separate collection target for beverage bottles and meet the expanding demand, ‘well-thought-out and harmonised’ collection schemes must be implemented with the help of local and national authorities.  ‘At the same time, a common approach to recyclability and product design must be established,’ the report stresses.

Traceability a must

Another requirement to ensure an optimal uptake of rPET is increasing trust in, and traceability of, the recycled materials. The report says enhancing existing schemes and establishing a EU-wide certification for recycled materials can achieve this.

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