The total installed plastics recycling capacity in 2020 in EU27+3 (European Union member States, UK, Norway and Switzerland) grew by 1.1 mt compared to the previous year. The new figures show that the plastics recycling industry remains resilient while continuing its path towards making plastics genuinely circular. The exceptional growth in the sector, despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, was possible thanks to the booming demand driven, among others, by the new legislative targets.
The dataset shows that PET, flexible PO and rigid HDPE and PP retain the biggest share of the overall plastics recycling capacity, representing nearly 80%. Moreover, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and France have the highest capacities for plastic waste recycling.
Rigid HDPE and PP registered the highest increase in recycling capacities, with a rate of over 20%, while for flexible PO it grew by roughly 10%. Fast-paced technological developments in collection, sorting and recycling were among the factors that facilitated these developments. “New business models open a wide array of opportunities in our industry,” said Ton Emans, Plastic Recyclers Europe President. “This is the case for film-to-film recycling - once deemed difficult and today a testament of the market maturing”, he added.
With 7.7 billion euros in turnover and a total of 9.6 million tonnes of installed recycling capacity, European recyclers are an essential part of the puzzle in addressing plastic waste and play a significant role in contributing towards a carbon-neutral Europe. Comprehensive legislative support would unlock additional collection and high-quality sorting tonnages while incentivising investments in recycling technologies and infrastructures leading to a tripling of plastics recycling capacities by 2030. Taking advantage of the momentum created by this growth, recyclers are at the forefront of making plastics circular while continuing to collaborate with actors from across the value chain.
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