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Demand for plastic materials has been constantly increasing across several industries such as food/beverage, automotive, packaging and healthcare. This demand has directly impacted the global plastics recycling market, which is projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of more than 5% up to 2027, according to various market reports. Key factors are: increased demand for recycled plastic owing to higher manufacturing costs of virgin resins; policies and regulations designed to counter waste production, such as landfill taxes, waste disposal taxes, recycling credit schemes and deposit refund systems; and increasing awareness of the effects of global warming.

This growth has been particularly noticeable in the increasing demand for recycled PET and HDPE owing to their low costs. At present, PET accounts for the majority of the market share as it is used in the manufacturing of containers, shoes, car parts and luggage, among other products. Mechanical processing appears to be one of the fastest-growing segments owing to low prices, ease of supply and wide availability of equipment.

The plastic recycling market is being led by the Asia-Pacific region, with its greater increase in automotive production as well as demand from the textiles and construction industries. Countries in this region have the highest plastic recycling market share, are the largest generators of plastic waste and are also the biggest plastic waste importers. Europe comes next in terms of share owing to its laws and regulations which are forcing the market to adapt constantly. The USA will also be a key leader because of its recycling research and development.

More locally, Spain is trying to follow the European route of taxes and regulation. Landfill bans have resulted in plastics recycling growth in many European countries. As landfill taxes in some of these countries are extremely high, dumping becomes more expensive than the recycling option, thus encouraging collection and processing. Furthermore, retailers are now basing marketing campaigns around the use of recycled plastic in their products as a means of demonstrating their environmental conscientiousness, to which their customers are responding positively.