European post-sorting PET collection reached 1.4 million tonnes in 2009, an increase of more than 8% on 2008, according to Petcore (PET containers recycling Europe). The overall collection rate in 2009 rose by nearly 2.5%, from 46% to 48.4%, of all PET bottles on the market.
The 2009 share of fibres as an end use for recycled PET flake decreased from 45% to 40%, although the tonnage remained almost the same. The PET sheet market tonnage resumed its growth pattern from 22% to 27%. Blowmoulding continued to grow with more than 22% going to this outlet in 2009. The strapping market was the hardest hit by the economic recession but still consumed 7%.
It was estimated that there is a total mechanical reclamation capacity in the European region of 1.6m tonnes. This provides the impetus for the industry to increase the current collection rate beyond 50%.
Exports to the Far East fell slightly to 16% of collected PET and 67,000 tonnes of baled PET bottles were imported from outside the area.
Of the collected bales that are reprocessed in Europe, only 75% is usable PET. The remainder consists of caps, labels, residues, contamination such as foreign materials and other polymers. The continuing programme of bottle weight reduction means that caps and labels form a greater proportion by weight of the collected PET package.
“For the collection of PET bottles in Europe to increase by more than 8% in such difficult economic circumstances is a real achievement,” says Roberto Bertaggia, chairman of the Petcore Board. “Recycled PET is a reliable and sought-after feedstock in the PET value chain and sustainable uses are being developed to utilise the growing supply of recycled PET. Whether PET bottles are recycled into one of the new applications, into another bottle, fibre, sheet or strapping tape the energy saving will be the same.”