The PET bottles supply for European recycling is too tight. The recycling capacity has been following the increasing trend of PET consumption and collection but the current combination of market forces has reduced the output of the European recycling plants. This situation is caused by several factors such as the exchange rates, a longer winter, the bottles' weight reduction and the increased export to the Far East. As a result, this situation is getting critical for some recycling operations as their input material is getting scarce.
This situation could easily be improved by increasing the collection ratios and focussing on local recycling. Furthermore, the big differences per country regarding the quality and/or the quantity of the collected materials need urgently further harmonisation. European collection and recycling are the fundamentals of a sustainable recycling system. Thus, long distance exports do not fit in this concept. Additionally, the security of supply needs to be improved before Europe loses experienced and trained recyclers.
The European Plastics Recyclers (EuPR) association underlines that focussing on European recycling is the key for long term sustainable resources management. Leakage of bottles to the Far East is leading to a more unsustainable situation which will affect the converters, brand owners and final users. Furthermore, the benefit of the collected material financed by the European tax payers is being misused outside the EU instead of being used for supporting the European recyclers helping Europe to move towards a recycling society.