Roughly half the 47.8 million tons of plastics consumed by Europe are recycled, showing both how far the sector has come and how far it could still go to reclaim materials.

Those figures from PlasticsEurope, which looked at the collection rates in the 28 EU states plus Norway and Switzerland, in a special pre-K Show report. There are bans on landfilling plastics in nine countries, but despite that, PlasticsEurope notes that the proportion going to landfill in the other countries is still very high—as much as 70%.

Of the materials collected, about two thirds are reutilized, while 30.8% are land filled. Of the plastics residuals that are reutilized, about half—7.7 million tons—is recycled while the rest is incinerated to generate energy.

Polyolefins Dominate
By quantity, polyolefins are the most used plastics in Europe, with about 9.5 million tons of PP, and 14 million tons of PE (8 million tons of low- and linear low-density, plus 6 million tons of medium- and high-density). Altogether, they account for about half of total consumption.

PlasticsEurope notes that PET recycling is well established, but it also has room for expansion.  PET accounts for almost 7%, or about 3.1 million tons, of total plastics consumption in Europe annually. Overall, Europe’s 30 countries achieve an average collection rate of 57%. In 2014, 1.75 million tons of post-consumer PET waste was collected, with bottles dominating.

For film/sheet manufacturers, post-consumer bottle flakes have become increasingly interesting, and in 2014 they used the biggest share—34% of the collected residuals in its industry segment. Almost 30% of the flakes were used in blow molding applications, 26% in the fiber industry and the rest for packing straps and other products.

There will be more than 300 exhibitors displaying equipment for plastics recycling at K 2016