HomeIndustry InsightsUrgent Action Needed: Protecting the Future of European Plastics Recycling Amidst Market Turmoil

Urgent Action Needed: Protecting the Future of European Plastics Recycling Amidst Market Turmoil


The European plastics recycling industry is facing a critical threat due to a combination of low demand and a surge in imports, posing a severe challenge to the achievement of recycling targets. Throughout 2023, the market has been in turmoil, witnessing a staggering 50% drop in recyclate prices, coupled with a notable increase in cheap imports from outside the EU. To prevent a potential shortfall in meeting recycling targets, swift and decisive enforcement mechanisms are imperative.

Ton Emans, President of PRE, emphasizes the urgency, stating, "The future of the recycling industry is at stake, and immediate action in the form of enforcement measures is needed to avoid a shutdown of recycling plants across Europe." A cessation of recycling activities could have far-reaching consequences on jobs, the European economy, and the environment.

The challenges are pervasive across all recycled polymers, with the PET industry being particularly hard-hit. The lack of a level-playing field has led to a 20% increase in PET imports to the EU from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023, resulting in diminished demand for EU rPET and a substantial 10% decrease in rPET over the same period.

As the Single Use Plastics Directive targets loom closer, the demand for recycled content in PET beverage bottles intensifies. However, this surge in demand has given rise to non-transparent imports from non-European countries, further complicating the market dynamics.

While legislation has proven effective in shaping a circular plastic future, enforcement measures are essential for its successful implementation. The risk of untraceable and unverified imports jeopardizing European recycling targets necessitates the introduction of an independent third-party certification system. This system not only addresses the issue at hand but also enhances traceability, particularly for food contact materials, while fostering transparency regarding the origin of recycled plastics. It's time for immediate and comprehensive action to secure the future of European plastics recycling.

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