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Market failures threaten PET recycling, says Plastics Recyclers Europe

By Joe Whitworth , 08-Feb-2013

Plastics Recyclers Europe has called for more polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to be collected to make use of industry resources.

The group, formerly known as EuPR, said the issue was leading to “persistent structural market failures across Europe”. 

It said collection infrastructures have reached their limit with collection of PET bottles stagnating around 50% leading to the uncollected PET being landfilled or incinerated.

Resource wasted

This was leading to Europe not maximising the sustainable use of post-consumer PET.

Plastics Recyclers Europe said a well-managed and balanced value chain was needed to boost resource efficiency.

“This is leading to a mis-match between the value in PET and what’s in the market,” a spokesman for the group told FoodProductionDaily.com

“There is a need for more collection for PET recycling, it is not maximised. We need recyclers to co-operate further states so we can have better collection, sorting and recycling.”

Casper van den Dungen, chairman of the EuPR PET working group, said: “The combined effect of these market failures are causing recycling plants to operate at well below 75% of their capacity.”

A potential lifting of existing anti-dumping duties on virgin PET could further worsen the EU industry’s position, said the group.

Until today, PET has been an undisputed success and example for sustainable development. It can remain so in the future if the collection moves upwards to another level and the virgin PET is fairly marketed” said van den Dungen.

PET issues

The trade body also cited intensive lightweighting and complex bottle design as reasons for the average costs of recycling increasing substantially in recent years.

However, they said recent years have seen an increase in demand for recycled PET and this has led to a significant increase in investments in many new recycling lines.

“Demand is good for rPET, it is going the same way as virgin PET but the price is still high and rPET is not as competitive as it could be,” the spokesman added.

“We are working with food and beverage recyclers, collectors and virgin producers to analyse and co-operation has started to reinforce this.”

When asked if full body sleeve labels were a major issue in Europe, like in the US , he added that it was an issue that was being investigated but it was too early to comment further.

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