As we get ever closer to the 2025 deadline to incorporate a minimum 25% recycled content in PET bottles across the EU (Single-Use Plastics Directive) and beyond (Ellen MacArthur Foundation signatories/FMCG brands’ global commitments), there is growing pressure on major global brands to secure sufficient feedstock to comply with their obligations.
In Eastern Europe, the market is becoming increasingly organized, with Slovakia recently launching its deposit return scheme to boost collection and recycling rates. More investment and acquisitions are taking place in the region, often in the form of joint ventures between FMCG brands and local recyclers.
In Asia, these brand pledges are helping to boost collections of PET bottles; in some countries, such as Indonesia, collected-for-recycling rates are now comparable with those in France despite 97% of the bottles being collected by the informal sector.
The decoupling of virgin PET and food-grade rPET prices is now strongly established, with continuous demand for the latter serving to drive up rPET values everywhere in the world.
Container prices from Asia to Europe remain around US$ 15,000 per 40-foot high cube, and up to US$ 20,000 to the USA. This situation is greatly restricting EU- and US-bound cargoes from Asia that would otherwise help to bridge the demand gap in these regions.
For other resins such as LDPE, interest from global brands is continuing to grow and to support recyclers in Eastern Europe where an increasing number of Western companies are investing in collection and recycling capacities in order to tap into local feedstock availability and to take advantage of lower wages.