New study highlights remarkable benefits of complementary recycling solutions for PET and Polyester which support a circular economy in Europe

News recycling solutions for PET and Polyester

A new study ‘Circular PET and Polyester: A circular economy blueprint for packaging and textiles in Europe’ published by Systemiq, an international organisation promoting systemic societal change, offers a roadmap and a first system-level analysis of how complementary circular economy solutions, including chemical recycling, for Polyethylene terephthalate also known as ‘PET’ and polyester, could work together to achieve high levels of reuse and recycling, and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. PET and polyester, widely used in bottles, food packaging, clothing, and healthcare products, represents approximately 25% of plastic packaging and the majority of synthetic textiles used in Europe.

Today, this material is primarily produced from virgin feedstocks derived from fossil fuels, with approximately 65% of PET and polyester waste ending up in landfills or being subjected to energy recovery after just one use.

The study highlights that by following an Ambitious Complementarity Scenario, as opposed to historical trends, could yield remarkable outcomes by 2040, including:

  1. A total of 25% of the projected PET/Polyester waste could be chemically recycled complementing the estimated 37% of mechanical recycling [1]
  2. A 70% decrease in waste to landfill or incineration
  3. The creation of 28,000 net new jobs and an additional €5.5 billion per year in revenues for the recycling industry.

(1) After deducting avoided PET/polyester waste in the Ambitious Complementarity Scenario

The study also reveals that the supply of recycled content would be sufficient to fulfil the requirements of the draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

This confirms the findings of a recent study by several researchers from  the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission and the University of Gent and Maastricht, that emphasises the significance of chemical recycling as a complementary technology to other recycling solutions, essential for achieving a circular economy.