Recycled content requirements have damaged European plastics markets, Plastics Recyclers Europe warn

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The Single Use Plastics Directive requirement for 25% recycled content in beverage bottles has hit the European plastics market, according to Plastics Recyclers Europe.

In an article for The Brussels Times, Plastics Recyclers Europe said that initially, the measure prompted increasing demand for recycled plastics on the European market, leading to increased prices.

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It added: “However, it led to an unforeseen side effect – packaging producers have turned to cheaper alternatives in the form of loosely monitored imports from outside of Europe.

“The declining market situation applies to all recycled polymers and is best represented in the PET industry. Due to the lack of a level-playing field, PET imports to the EU have increased by 20% from June 2022 to June 2023, resulting in low demand for EU recycled PET.”

As a result of this, Plastics Recyclers Europe wrote that given the low demand and increasing imports, European recyclers are faced with a surplus of stock.

It therefore called for “ensuring the same level of traceability for materials that are imported, as well as applying the same legislative requirements as for those that adhere to European recyclers”.

Plastics Recyclers Europe noted in the article that since the start of 2023, prices for recycled plastics have decreased by 50% while cheap imports have increased over that time.