European recycling industry prepares for larger volumes of post-use flexible polyolefin films becoming available

AMI, Bristol, 12/08/2021 – A new report from AMI Consulting presents acomprehensive analysis of the state of play and future outlook for therecycling of flexible polyolefin films in Europe. It analyses theindustry’s operating environment, and the particular challenges involved inthe collection, sorting and recycling of flexible films.

In preparing the report, AMI’s comprehensive and detailed in-house data onvirgin polymer demand, polymer end use applications, and recyclingcapacities was combined with an extensive research programme includingconversations with a wide range of industry participants.

polyolefin films generated as waste by end use sector and, consideringcollection rates, levels of contamination and international trade inpost-use plastics, an assessment of the volumes of post-use films availableto EU+3 recyclers as inputs into the recycling extrusion process. Thelatter data point is of particular importance given it marks the newcalculation point for the EU’s recycling targets. Data is provided for theyears 2019, 2020 and 2021, with forecasts for 2025 and 2030.

The report also identifies the top six countries in terms of recyclingcapacity for flexible polyolefin films in Europe, with Germany in the lead,as well as the region’s top ten film recyclers. This is complemented by adetailed analysis of existing and emerging end use applications for theoutputs of the recycling process, providing data for 2020, 2025, and 2030.

The quantitative analysis is accompanied by a detailed assessment of theindustry’s changing operating environment and the implications of thesechanges have for the industry’s future development.

In a market where demand for recyclates has traditionally been determinedby fluctuations in virgin polymer prices, market forces alone are notsufficient to create a viable operating environment for recyclers.Legislation has become increasingly important as the key instrument toincentivise recyclate use beyond the sectors where consumer pressure andbrand owner commitments have initiated change. Measures of key relevancecan be found in the EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy.

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AMI’s report explores the current collection and sorting processes fordifferent types of flexible polyolefin films and how they impact uponvolumes and quality of post-use films available for recycling. It alsolooks at definitions of ‘recyclability’ and the solutions marketparticipants across the value chain are working on to achieve it.Technological innovations and the role chemical recycling can play toincrease recycling rates for flexible films form further parts of theanalysis.

With deadlines for meeting EU recycling targets approaching the recyclingindustry needs a clear commitment to investments into Europe’s collection &recycling infrastructure for flexible films. There is significant potentialto increase the volume of post-use films made available for recycling, andto produce higher quality recyclates suitable for a broader range of enduse applications.

For further information please contact: *Silke Einschütz, ConsultantRecycling & Sustainability, AMI Consulting+44 (0)117 311 1532

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