Plastic Recycling Industry in Desperate Need of Support

by George Kiernan

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In the face of global challenges, the plastic recycling industry has reached a pivotal moment. The journey of transformation and growth within this sector is not just about overcoming obstacles but is a clarion call for collective action and legislative support. As we delve into the current state of plastic recycling in Europe, Pakire Polymers stands at the forefront, championing a greener future.

European Plastic Recycling Industry Challenges

The European plastic recycling landscape has shown resilience and adaptability, with an installed capacity of 12.5 million tonnes in 2022. However, this growth trajectory encountered significant headwinds due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent energy crises. The shift from a 17% growth rate to a more modest 10% year-on-year increase underscores the impact of these global events. Tom Emans, president of Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), highlighted the sector’s unwavering commitment despite facing halted operations during the pandemic and the energy challenges of 2022.

Demand for Recycled Plastic

A critical issue that emerged in 2023 was the alarmingly low demand for recycled plastics. This was compounded by the lower prices of virgin plastics, driven by reduced industrial production within the EU and the influx of cheaper recycled plastic imports from outside the EU. Such market dynamics underscore the pressing need to stimulate demand for recyclates, ensuring the sustainability of the recycling ecosystem.

EU Plastic Recycling Industry Regulations

The path forward for the plastic recycling industry is contingent upon the enforcement of robust legislative measures. Without such frameworks in place, the momentum necessary for continued progress and innovation within the sector could falter. An analysis of 850 recycling sites, each with an average capacity of 15,000 tonnes, revealed that flexible polyolefins, PET, and rigid polyolefins remain the materials with the highest recycling capacities, collectively representing over 80% of the total. This sector, boasting a €10.4 billion turnover and providing employment to over 30,000 individuals across Europe, is a significant contributor to the economy, particularly in countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and France, which account for 60% of the total capacity.

Pakire Polymers’ Perspective

Pakire Polymers, rooted in over four decades of industry experience, stands as a leading force of innovation and sustainability in the plastic recycling sector. The company’s vision extends beyond the current challenges, focusing on the broader implications for environmental stewardship and economic resilience. Pakire Polymers passionately advocates for the advancement of the recycling industry, emphasising the need for increased demand and legislative action to foster a conducive environment for growth.

As we look towards a sustainable future, it is imperative that all stakeholders – from policymakers to consumers – rally behind the recycling industry. Pakire Polymers believes in the power of collective effort to transform challenges into opportunities, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable world. The time for action is now; let us embrace the call to support and revitalise the plastic recycling industry, ensuring its vital role in our sustainable future.

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