With a recycling capacity of 1.7 million metric tons, rigid, postconsumer and postindustrial polyolefins, including high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), are in the group of "the most recycled streams in Europe."
According to data collected by Plastics Recyclers Europe, the countries with the highest capacity for these streams include Italy, with a rate of 25 percent, Germany, with 22 percent; and the U.K., with 15 percent. In addition, 22 percent recycling capacity comes from Spain, and 9 percent comes from France.
Plastics Recyclers Europe reports there were 114 HDPE and PP recyclers in Europe in 2018, with the highest number of HDPE and PP facilities in Italy and Spain. Germany places itself in third place, followed by the U.K. and France.
“The demand for the use of recyclables is increasing and shifting towards a wider range of applications which require a new set of specifications,” remarks Herbert Snell, HDPE and PP Working Group chairman. “Although the HDPE and PP recycling capacity is steadily growing, in order to meet this new demand and increase the quality, it will be essential to work on advancing collection and design for recycling.”
He adds, “It is indispensable to increase recycling of these polymers if we are to reach the new recycling rates. This, in turn, can happen only if a genuine transformation of the production, end-of-life treatment and collection of these materials is taking place.”
The main outlet for rigid polyolefins in Europe remains packaging, which is used in food, household and personal care products, according to the association. The biggest market for HDPE is building and construction and automotive is the main outlet for PP.
The recent HDPE and PP report supplements the data for recycling capabilities for PET at 2 million metric tons and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) at 2.3 million metric tons in Europe, published in 2018.