European mechanical plastics recycling exceeded 8 million tonnes in 2021 despite feedstock insecurities caused by Covid-19 slowdown
25 February 2022
The waste plastics value chain is a complex and dynamic sector, with an evolving operating environment. New legislation and targets for the recycling of plastics and the use of recyclate are changing the way the whole plastics industry must operate. The mechanical plastics recycling industry, therefore, has become the focal point for investments, acquisition, and expansion.
Although the volume of commodity plastic entering the waste stream on a yearly basis is extremely large, estimated by AMI as 35.6 million tonnes in 2021, feedstock availability should not be taken for granted. Much of this waste is currently uncollected for recycling or 'lost' at the sorting stage and ends up in landfill or used by EfW plants. Feedstock is therefore a finite resource, characterised by bail price fluctuations and variable quality and supply.
Plastics recyclate production was 8.2 million tonnes in 2021 and is forecast to grow at a rate of 5.6%/year to 2030. To put this figure into context, one must review it in tandem with the 35.6 million tonnes of commodity plastic entered the waste stream in 2021. This implies that Europe achieved an overall plastic recycling rate of 23.1%, far lower than one might have assumed.
Read the full press release: European mechanical plastics recycling exceeded 8 million tonnes in 2021 despite feedstock insecurities caused by Covid-19 slowdown