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The ‘disappointing reality’ for plastics recycling

‘What makes plastics useful is exactly what makes them harmful: they persist,’ concludes a new report presented by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).

Recycling is ‘a systematically under-used form of waste management,’ the report argues. It contains the latest available market data and makes recommendations about efficient recycling systems.

It is a ‘disappointing reality’ that only around 10% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, BIR says. Even developed nations struggle to get their plastics recycling rates above 30%.

Researchers calculate that recycling uses up to 76% less energy compared to manufacturing products from virgin materials.

BIR hopes the detailed report will provide guidance and calls on governments to set up proper infrastructure for plastics recycling. BIR also urges producers to work with recyclers on designing products for recycling, allowing easier sorting of collected scrap and ensuring higher levels of recyclability.

‘We are very happy and proud to present this report. In a very clear and accessible way, it provides insight into how plastics recycling is organised,’ Henk Alssema of Dutch recycling firm Vita Plastics and chairman of the BIR Plastics Committee told a session of BIR’s special online convention.

He invites all industry stakeholders and government officials to join forces to close the loop, ‘propelling the recycling of plastics to an even higher level.’

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