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Europe sees rising PET collections – but challenges too

EU – European post-sorting PET collection volumes climbed to 1.45 million tonnes in 2010 – an increase of 6.5% when compared to 2009, according to European PET container organisation Petcore and plastics recycling association EuPR.

The two bodies also estimate that the continent’s total mechanical reclamation capacity is around 1.7 million tonnes per annum.
‘Capacity utilisation of our recycle plants is only 79% at present,’ observes Casper van den Dungen, Chair of EuPR’s PET working group. ‘This provides the challenge for municipalities, other collectors and industry to increase the current collection rate beyond 50% to load the recycling facilities already in place.’ However, the overall collection rate for 2010 of 48.3% showed no increase on the previous year.
Blow-moulding outlets showed growth in Europe last year – with some 25% of their rPET output (almost 250 000 tonnes) used to produce containers. Meanwhile, there was a 25 000-tonne decrease in recycled PET (rPET) used in the amorphous PET (aPET) sheet market. This drop is due in part to higher sheet imports into the economic bloc. Another major factor is financial, with ‘the price of suitable quality rPET almost matching that of virgin PET for most of the year’, say Petcore and EuPR.
European exports of collected PET to the Far East fell for a second year to 13% of the whole while imports of baled PET bottles from outside the region were also lower than in 2009.
Petcore’s Chair Robert Bertaggia comments: ‘The 6.5% increase in 2010 is an excellent result. The PET industry chain has worked with compliance agencies, national bodies and European recyclers to achieve a collection rate of nearly 50% of all PET bottles placed on the market.’

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