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European PET collection rates rise but challenges remain

By Rory Harrington , 12-Jul-2011

The collection of PET bottles in Europe last year rose by more than six per cent to reach almost 1.5m tonnes, according a report commissioned by two industry bodies.

European PET container body Petcore and plastics recycling association EuPR said European post-sorting PET collection climbed to 1.45m tonnes in 2010, an increase of 6.5 per cent compared to 2009.

They estimated that the total mechanical reclamation capacity in the European region is 1.7m tonnes.

Casper van den Dungen, EuPR PET working group chair, said: “Capacity utilisation of our recycle plants is only 79 per cent at present. This provides the challenge for municipalities, other collectors and industry to increase the current collection rate beyond 50 per cent to load the recycling facilities already in place”.

Collection and reuse rate

However, the overall collection rate for 2010 of 48.3 per cent showed no increase on the previous year.

Some EU countries are recording collection rates in excess of 70 per cent, said the industry study.

All but two of the surveyed countries had collection rate above the 22.5 per cent target for plastic recovery set by the Packaging Waste Directive – with the maturity of infrastructure systems a major factor.

Blowmoulding outlets showed growth – with some 25 per cent of their rPET output (almost 250,000 tonnes) used to produce containers.

There was a 25,000 tonne decrease in RPET used in the amorphous PET (APET) sheet market.

The study, carried out by PCI PET Packaging, Resin and Recycling Ltd, concluded this drop was due in part to higher volumes of sheet imports into the economic bloc.

Another major factor was price – with “the price of suitable quality RPET almost matching that of virgin PET for most of the year”, said the trade bodies in a joint statement.

Exports of collected PET to the Far East fell for a second year to 13 per cent and imports of baled PET bottles from outside the region were also down.

Petcore chair Robert Bertaggia welcomed the figures.

“With every European country collecting PET bottles, the high year on year increases of earlier years had to fall, but the 6.5 per cent increase in 2010 is an excellent result,” he added. “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”.

The bodies pledged to further grow PET recycling in line with consumer expectations.

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