People and Environment

rPET: Can companies live up to their recycling pledges?

Coming regulations regarding the minimum percentage of recycled content in plastic materials already have packaging processors looking for ways to integrate this in part of their products. Moreover, there is also the public pressure of wanting recycled and recyclable products as their demand for sustainability.

Whether you are already involved in the processing of recycled plastics, or about to include it in your production, you know that the process involves many challenges, and besides technical considerations, one of the most worrisome aspects is that recycled material shortages could be coming, hence driving up prices and risking panic buying.

Europe already sees the highest price on virgin PET in the past 10 years at Eur1500/mt on November 3rd, according to S&P Global Platt assessment, with rPET prices just slightly below at a Eur 30/mt difference. Tight availability prevents producers from operating at full capacity as demand for PET resin continues to outrun supplies.

Companies could be stepping down from pledges regarding their recycling content targets. Although this is not new, (e.g. Coca Cola pledged in the ´90s to make their bottles from 25% recycled plastic which for 30 years did not happen), the problem now would be lying on the lack of availability due to all the different players´ commitments rather than the lack of regulatory pressure as in our given example. According to the research conducted by S&P Global Platt, a convertor mentions “…there is not enough PCR. To get 100% you have to recover 130% from the market”.

Whilst the statement “we are not going to recycle our way out of the plastics waste problem” does picture an important issue, we know that recycling is absolutely necessary to achieve a Circular Economy, making it a crucial part of the system. Unfortunately, wishful thinking is driving unrealistic goals and keeps us wondering why decision-makers are only focused on a small portion of the plastics spectrum.


Estefania López

Technical Support Manager