Europe’s plastic recycling drive pits consumer demand against economic realities

Recognition of plastic waste as a global problem has spurred legislation and industry initiatives in the last two years, and driven growth in demand for recycled plastics. When it comes to developing recycling as a sustainable business, Europe leads the way, and in particular the market for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), best known as the material of choice for plastic drinks bottles. But the evolution of PET and recycled PET (R-PET) markets in 2019 highlighted underlying concerns around profitability and cost, as price trends shifted with changing demand patterns. Demand for recycled plastics over the longer term is expected to grow in part due to European Union policy initiatives to increase the recyclability and recycled content of packaging. In the short term, the market’s true commitment to sustainability will be tested in the face of unfavorable economics. Recycled PET price premium There has been much talk about a growing disconnect between pricing in the recycled PET flake market and the virgin PET market. Flake prices have traditionally held a wide and fairly steady discount to the virgin market, making the product economically viable and a boon for marketing. However, 2019 saw virgin resin prices sink, at first to parity with flake… continue reading

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Source: CTRM Center

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