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Report for Asia and Eastern Europe

Data sourced from several material recovery facilities across Europe reveal a significant reduction of between 25 and 30% in household waste compared to the same period last year.  

This is a crucial indicator, demonstrating the profound impact inflation continues to exert on consumption and demand. Many households have significantly curtailed their consumption of bottled water and other beverages in favour of cheaper alternatives such as tap water, thereby affecting beverage producers.  

Consistently low prices of virgin PET in Asia are continuing to pose challenges for recyclers, both regionally and in Europe. Despite efforts to stimulate demand through price cuts, Asia’s recyclers are meeting with lacklustre responses. 

The narrow margins in recycling are expected to persist given that transferring these costs to end-users is unfeasible, especially with the influx of low-cost Chinese PET cargoes. Chinese manufacturers are offering virgin PET cargoes at as low as US$ 850 per tonne on an FOB basis. In contrast, offers from rPET food-grade recyclers in Asia are at US$ 1300-1400 per tonne. As a result, fast-moving consumer goods companies are prioritizing their bottom lines amid ongoing macro-economic pressures, leading them to replace the more costly rPET with cheaper virgin materials as a loss-mitigation strategy and thus to diverge from their sustainability targets.  

Most of Asia’s recyclers are redoubling their efforts to explore new markets in response to stagnant local demand. However, with the steep slump in demand from Europe and the USA, their attempts to find respite have been largely unsuccessful. Legally-enforced minimum recycled content mandates are proving, yet again, to be the most effective mechanism to sustain recycling efforts and stabilize recycled resin prices.  

Meanwhile, the implementation of Deposit Refund Schemes (DRSs) is gaining momentum. Singapore has deferred the launch of its highly-anticipated DRS to 2025, aligning with Poland’s announced scheme for the same year. Both countries are aiming for collection targets of over 80%, largely facilitated by the increasing popularity and use of reverse vending machines - a trend that is becoming prevalent even outside of DRS jurisdictions. 

In South East Asia, where nearly 97% of collected bottles are handled by the informal sector, prices paid to waste pickers continue to bolster bale prices, which are around US$ 550 per tonne for clear PET bottles and US$ 500 for light blue PET bottles in Indonesia. In Europe, by comparison, bale prices have plunged to as low as Euro 300 per tonne for the clear/light blue varieties. Major recyclers have refrained from purchasing any bales in the past 30 days, and this trend may continue through July and into August, even though this period is traditionally considered the high season.