17% growth in EU plastic recycling capacity

plastic waste

Installed plastic recycling capacity has grown by 17% in 2021 in EU27+3, boosted by an estimated €1.75 billion investment, Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE) says.

Despite the recent challenges that the industry has faced, PRE says the recyclers are still “strongly committed” to driving the transition toward a circular plastic future.

With more than 730 recycling sites, the total capacity in EU27+3 now stands at 11.3 million tonnes, PRE says. The organisation continues that more than 30,000 people are employed in the sector across Europe, which generates €8.7 billion in turnover.

PRE President, Ton Emans, commented: “In recent years, European plastics recyclers have experienced many challenges. However, with the increased advancements in legislation, stemming from the implementation of the Plastics Strategy and the Single-Use Plastics Directive, the recycling industry has weathered the crisis showing its resiliency to external factors.

In recent years, European plastics recyclers have experienced many challenges.

“The positive growth we can observe today will shape and further strengthen the market for recycled plastics towards meeting the EU targets.”

In terms of the polymers split, more than 3/4 of the total share is covered by flexible PE & PP, PET and rigid PE & PP, which showed the highest increase compared to 2020, PRE says.

According to the organisation, when it comes to rigid polyolefins, nearly half of the recycling capacity is dedicated to the household stream – for flexible PE & PP, half of the capacity is for commercial waste.

Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and France are the countries with the highest installed capacities, representing 2/3 of the total market, PRE says.

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