According to a recent report by Plastics Recyclers Europe, Europe's soft polyolefin recycling capacity increased by 8% between 2018 and 2020, reaching 2.7 million tonnes at 200 recycling facilities.
According to the report, the average capacity of small and medium-sized film recycling plants is 10,000 tons; The largest plastic film recycling facility is expected to have a capacity of more than 40,000 tons. Two-thirds of the total installed capacity came from Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Benelux, with the more populous countries seeing "substantial" growth.
In 2016, Europe exported about 1.8 million tons of PE waste to other regions, but with the implementation of China's "national sword" policy in 2017, exports continued to decline, and with the revision of the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of waste, exports are expected to decline further.
In 2020, polyolefin recovery will reach 1.9 million tons, accounting for 17% of the total demand for soft film market. Heavy duty sacks and garbage bags were the most common end uses for recycled materials, accounting for 38 percent of total use.
PRE explained that improvements in the collection, sorting and recycling of soft film plastics have led to an increase in the use of recycled materials for various end applications, which has clearly improved recycling capacity.
The report identifies the key challenges facing the soft film recycling market:
2. Recyclability: lack of recyclable design
3. Limited data transparency
4. Lack of consumer awareness
5. Rising energy costs
Key drivers include: legislation, technology enablers, pricing dynamics and differentiated needs, industry commitment and consumer pressure.
PRE expects that the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) will help to decouple raw and recycled polymer prices, inject more legal certainty into the industry and drive further investment in the flexible packaging industry.
By 2030, the industry must achieve 7 million tons of soft plastic recycling capacity to achieve the stated goal. To achieve this, PRE calls for a "holistic approach" to improve the availability of high-quality recycled materials through improved recyclable design and collection and sorting efficiency.
"Legislation will continue to be one of the key enablers for a smooth transition of soft plastic film to a fully circular economy," said Ton Emans, PRE president and chair of the Polyolefin Film Working Group. "In addition, value chain collaboration is imperative and will determine the success of this transformation."