Plastic Recyclers Europe report low availability of sorted plastic waste

According to Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE), low available volumes of sorted plastic waste are negatively impacting the operations of plastics recyclers across Europe, creating an ‘obstacle to achieving the EU targets’.

bottlesThe organisation says that this is ‘unexpected’ due to the EU registering a decline in exports of waste over the last few years, whilst recyclers continue to upscale the installed capacities – with a major, 60 per cent growth in four years.

PRE reported that nine megatonnes of plastic waste are collected for sorting out of 30 megatonnes in total, emphasising why increasing the quantity of collection destined for recycling remains one of the key measures in Europe.

The remainder of the collected waste – 21megatonnes – is either incinerated or landfilled and the statistics demonstrate a 20 megatonnes gap in the amount of waste that is generated versus what is put on the market, PRE has said.

Reflecting on figures, the organisation has emphasised a need to divert recyclable plastic from landfills and incinerators, in order to create economies of scale for recycled polymers. It therefore calls for ‘transparent reporting on waste generation, collection and sorting’, so that missed quantities can be identified and recycled.

Ton Emans, PRE President, said: ‘’This situation could slow down the transition towards a full plastic circularity.

“The recent EU policy and global developments have boosted massive investments in the plastic recycling capacities on the continent as in 2020 the plastic recycling industry invested €1.5 billion which translates into 1.1 megatonne additional installed capacity when compared to the previous year and a total of €4.9bn of investments since 2017.

“However, without stable, high-quality input materials the industry’s efforts to reach the new recycling targets might be hindered. Robust sorting and collection infrastructure is a must to increase stable feedstocks for European recyclers.”