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Europe’s PET collection and recycling rates rise in 2016

Published 21 December 2017

Of 3.1 million tons of PET bottles and containers placed in Europe last year, a 59.8% (1.88 million tons) of them were collected and 1.77 million tons have been recycled, according to a survey by Petcore Europe.

The survey revealed that the collection rates increased by 7.4%, while the recycling rates also increased by 7.3%. In 2016, that resulted in 129,400 tons more collected and 120,000 tons more recycled PET compared with two years before.

Petcore Europe president Paola Arlotti said: "These PET collection and recycling rates are unreached in the plastics packaging industry while it is worth mentioning that PET recyclers still have unexploited capacities for recycling.

"The figures clearly outline the crucial role of PET in a Circular Economy and for reaching the plastics recycling targets currently discussed on EU level."

The PET collection rates in France, Germany and Italy have continued their gradual decline in total share of PET collection in Europe. They account for 47.9% of the total volume collected in the region.

These three countries are now joined by Spain and the UK that contribute a significant proportion of the regional total. The five countries account for more than 70% of overall PET collection in the EU.

Petcore Europe executive director Christian Crepet said: "This is an encouraging sign for recyclers and hopefully this increased share is set to continue.

"However, the quality of bales with additionally a total share of 26.4% clear/light blue bottles, 25.5% mixed colours including green/brown bottles, and 30.8% of unspecified mixed colours clearly continues to challenge the recycling industry.

"Therefore, we believe that there is a vital need for a detailed analysis of the unspecified waste stream which will be part of the 2018 study commissioned by Petcore Europe."

Petcore Europe vice president Casper van den Dungen said: "The survey confirms an increased waste ratio at the recycling stage. Therefore, efficiency increase in collection and sorting is needed and would also contribute to the cost reduction of the total system in the long term."


Image: PET collection and recycling rates in Europe significantly increased in 2016. Photo: courtesy of Petcore Europe.