Europe Increases Recycled Content By 20%, Challenges Ahead


The European plastics industry increased its use of post-consumer recycled content in products by 20 per cent last year, to a 10 per cent level, but wants stronger policies from governments supporting chemical recycling to speed that up.

The head of trade group Plastics Europe made that argument at a news conference on October 20 at K 2022, where the association presented its “Plastics – The Facts 2022” report on economic trends.

The group called chemical recycling a key lever, along with more mechanical recycling, to increase the circularity of plastics, stressing that it wanted to see specific legislation supporting chemical recycling to encourage investment.

“There are announcements of massive investment, in Europe and around the world, and we have to make sure that the recognition [of chemical recycling] it is there at the European level, in the legislation, so investor security is there yesterday,” said Virginia Janssens, CEO of Plastics Europe. “We need it for yesterday. … We need that enabling framework to move faster.”

As part of that, the group said a regulatory system that accepts mass balance standards – a system for measuring the recycled or renewable content within fossil fuel-based feedstocks – is important for chemical recycling.

Janssens also said it’s important to expand traditional mechanical recycling.

The report from the Brussels-based trade group says European plastic products used 10.1 percent recycled content in 2021, or about 5.5 million metric tons, which was a 20 percent increase from the previous year. last year. That figure includes plastic with recycled content used in all markets in Europe, including packaging and durable goods such as housing, construction and cars.

The report says bio-based plastics accounted for 2.3 percent of European plastics production in 2021, meaning 12.4 percent of total European plastics production is based on non-fossil fuels.

In a press release, the group endorsed the European Union’s “aspirational goal” that 20 percent of the continent’s plastics come from non-fossil carbon by 2030. By comparison, it said, for the global industry of plastics and its 390 million metric tons of production in 2021, 9.8 percent came from non-fossil-based sources.


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