A strong trend towards the use of recycled PET (rPET) due to increased demand is projected in the report by sustainability consultancy Eunomia, done in collaboration with EFBW, Petcore Europe and PRE.
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. 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.
Main obstacles identified are collection and design 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. In parallel, a common approach to recyclability and product design must be established. Initiatives such as EPBP and RecyClass have laid out the ground, providing a common direction for the industry towards improving packaging recyclability.
Furthermore, increasing trust and traceability of the recycled materials by building on schemes such as EuCertPlast and aiming to establish an EU-wide certification for recycled materials would ensure the optimal uptake of rPET.
The industry must continue to work with policy makers and value chain partners to meet EU targets, in order to succesfully establish a circular economy for PET in Europe as we all have a role to play via design for recycling, efficient collection, sorting and state of the art recycling.