Recycled PET (R-PET)

Driving the circular economy with actionable data on this key recycled plastic 

Discover the factors influencing recycled PET (R-PET) markets

Demand for Recycled PET (R-PET) around the globe is on the rise. Driven by building pressure from both consumers and brand owners to deliver more sustainable ways of living and reducing environmental impact, this trend shows no signs of abating. A growing number of legislative targets in Europe and the US, together with country-specific developments in Asia, add yet another reason why keeping up-to-date with global R-PET markets is essential.

Navigating what has become an increasingly volatile market is a challenge for new and experienced market players. Access to comprehensive and reliable recycled polymer market data is key.

To meet the needs of buyers, sellers and traders of R-PET, we have expanded our coverage to encompass Europe, Asia, the Americas and beyond. We are recognised as the benchmark price for recycled polymers, including R-PET. Our European historic price data shows developments since coverage began in 2006, and the additions of the US and Asia reports adds a global view to this dynamic market and enables a holistic view on how this market continues to emerge around the world.

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R-PET news

VIDEO: Europe R-PET FD NWE colourless flake prices rise again in February

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling Matt Tudball discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: Further rises in FD NWE colourless flake in February Flake and bale prices rise in eastern Europe Demand driven by restocking, tight availability

23-Feb-2024

Pembina to supply Dow Canada net-zero petchem project with ethane

TORONTO (ICIS)–Canadian midstream energy firm Pembina Pipeline has entered into long-term agreements to supply Dow’s upcoming net-zero petrochemicals project at Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta province with 50,000 bbl/day of ethane. Pembina is a major supplier of ethane to the petrochemical industry in Alberta. Dow announced in November that it will proceed with the construction of a new integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives facility in Fort Saskatchewan, to be completed in two phases, with in-service dates of 2027 and 2029. The first phase of the "Path2Zero Project" includes about 1.285 million tonnes/year of ethylene and polyethylene (PE) capacity and the second phase adds another 600,000 tonnes/year. Dow’s project represents “a significant increase” to the current ethane market in Alberta and is an important development for the oil and gas industry in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB), Pembina said. To support Dow's project, Pembina is evaluating several possible options to invest in new infrastructure, including incremental deep-cut processing capacity at certain gas plants, de-ethanizer expansions at existing fractionation facilities, potential new straddle facilities, and smaller expansion opportunities, it said. Furthermore, the Path2Zero Project will directly drive incremental ethane demand, the extraction of which should also increase the supply of other associated natural gas liquids (NGL) – propane, butane and condensate, Pembina said. The resulting NGL volume growth across the WCSB would benefit Pembina over a period of many years and support higher utilization and potential expansions of its asset its Alberta, it said. Pembina's assets include gas processing facilities, the Redwater fractionation complex, the Peace and Northern pipeline systems, the Alberta Ethane Gathering System, and storage facilities. Thumbnail photo of Pembina’s Redwater fractionation complex north east of Edmonton, Alberta; photo source: Pembina

23-Feb-2024

LyondellBasell to lease California plant to produce recycled resins from waste

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–LyondellBasell has acquired a recycling plant in California from PreZero in which it plans to produce post-consumer recycled resins from plastic waste, the US chemicals major said on Tuesday. Financial details were not disclosed. The plant will be fully taken over by LyondellBasell in 2025. It will have a production capacity of 50 million pounds/year (25,000 tonnes/year) of recycled resins. “The transaction includes leasing the processing facility in Jurupa Valley, California … LYB will offer these recycled polymers under its CirculenRecover brand, part of the company's Circulen portfolio of products that enable the circular economy,” it added. LyondellBasell’s Executive Vice-President for the circular economy, Yvonne van der Laan, added the company was aiming to “build upon our existing experience in plastic recycling in Europe” to meet US’ growing demand for recycled products. In October 2023, LyondellBasell acquired a 25% stake in Cyclyx, a joint venture between energy major ExxonMobil and Agilyx. Additional reporting by Emily Friedman Thumbnail shows bales of recycled plastic. Image by Shutterstock. 

20-Feb-2024

Commercial production at Methanex's Geismar 3 in Louisiana delayed until late Q3

LONDON (ICIS)–Commercial production at Methanex's newly constructed 1.8 million tonne/year methanol plant, Geismar 3, has been delayed, potentially until the end of Q3, the Canadian producer announced. During the plant's initial start-up, there were complications with the unit's autothermal reformer (ATR). In a press release, Methanex said that following inspections, there was significant damage to a large number of supporting refractory bricks in the ATR which needed replacing. It is estimated that the total capital cost will not significantly exceed the upper end of the capital cost guidance of $1.30bn. Gesimar 3 is located in Louisiana and was originally scheduled to start up in Q4 2023. In Methanex's Q4 earnings report last month, it said the plant was in the process of starting up and was expected to reach full rates in February. The producer said, "Based on the preliminary findings of its root cause analysis, management believes that this issue relates to complications in the initial start-up process and is not a plant design or construction issue." Methanol is primarily used to produce formaldehyde, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and acetic acid. Smaller amounts go into production of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), methyl methacrylate (MMA), chloromethanes, methylamines, glycol methyl ethers, and fuels applications such dimethyl ether (DME), biodiesel and the direct blending into gasoline.

20-Feb-2024

QatarEnergy, CP Chem start building $6bn Ras Laffan polymers complex

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–QatarEnergy and US’ Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) have started construction of their joint venture integrated polymers complex at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar. The $6bn project will include an ethane cracker with capacity of 2.08m tonnes/year of ethylene, making it the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East and one of the largest globally, CP Chem said late on Monday. It will also include two high-density polyethylene (PE) derivative units with a total capacity of 1.68m tonnes/year. The two firms secured $4.4bn in financing for the Ras Laffan project in October last year. The PE units will use CP Chem’s MarTech loop slurry process to produce high-density PE (HDPE), which will be primarily meant for exports. The project is being developed by a 30:70 joint venture company of CP Chem and QatarEnergy. “This project advances CP Chem’s long-held strategy to expand its operations in regions where feedstock is reliable and abundant and will help meet the global demand for polyethylene products," CP Chem president and CEO Bruce Chinn said. Qatar holds the third-largest proven natural gas reserves in the world which positions it as a key player in the global energy market and a primary exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). CP Chem is providing project management services to oversee the engineering, procurement and construction of the facility. The Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex is Qatar Energy’s largest investment in the local petrochemicals sector, the Qatari firm said in a separate statement issued on 19 February. The project will raise Qatar’s overall petrochemical production capacity to about 14m tonnes/year by the end of 2026, it said. “There is no doubt that this is an important landmark in QatarEnergy’s downstream expansion strategy as it will reinforce our integrated position as a global energy player and generate significant economic benefits for the country,” Qatar’s minister of state for energy affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said. CP Chem and QatarEnergy operate three joint ventures in Qatar, namely, Qatar Chemical Co, Qatar Chemical Company II, and Ras Laffan Olefins Co. In the US, the two companies, through their Golden Triangle Polymers joint venture, are also building a similar integrated polymers facility in Orange, Texas, which is expected to start up in 2026. Thumbnail image: Qatar minister of state for energy affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi on 19 February 2024 (Source: QatarEnergy)

20-Feb-2024

Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 16 February 2024. Singapore Jan petrochemical exports rise 8.7%, NODX up 16.8% By Nurluqman Suratman 16-Feb-24 09:55 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s petrochemical exports in January rose by 8.7% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.11bn ($822m), with non-oil domestic exports (NODX) posting a 16.8% growth for the month, official data showed on Friday. Asia fatty acids market faces cost pressures on strong palm oil prices By Helen Yan 15-Feb-24 13:10 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s fatty acids market is likely to face costs pressures from recent spikes in upstream crude palm oil (CPO) prices, while demand is expected to stay tepid. PODCAST: Asia R-PE, R-PET see slow 2023; legislations, waste management to shape future By Damini Dabholkar 15-Feb-24 14:07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia recycled polymers markets were sluggish for the most part in 2023. In early 2024 too, challenges that dim the short-term outlook persist. INSIGHT: Indonesia polls raise questions over Nusantara, import curbs By Pearl Bantillo 13-Feb-24 19:27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Indonesia, southeast Asia’s biggest economy, will go to the polls on 14 February to elect a new president, posing uncertainties on continuity of economic policies, from import restrictions coming into effect in March to incumbent President Joko Widodo’s flagship project of building a new capital called Nusantara in Kalimantan province. Asian EPDM market quiet amid holidays; demand outlook mixed By Ai Teng Lim 13-Feb-24 17:22 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Discussions for Asian spot imports of ethylene propylene diene-monomer (EPDM) ground to a halt this week, with much of Asia out of action on extended Lunar New Year holidays.

19-Feb-2024

Global interest in US R-PET market intensifies in both feedstock, finished product

HOUSTON (ICIS)–As global markets continue to become more interconnected, many regions outside the US have taken interest in the domestic recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market as both a potential area of feedstock supply, as well as a destination for finished flake and pellet cargoes. Market participants confirm they have seen a notable rise in imported R-PET activity from Asia and Latin America, particularly due to their cost-competitive position in light of cheaper ocean freight rates in 2023. US recyclers were heard to be supplementing their operations with imported feedstock.  Several recyclers now purchase cheap spot or imported R-PET flake to process into their food grade pellet product, and potentially redirecting their internally produced flake from high cost domestic bale feedstock to sell directly to customers. In the long term, the US will have to seek imports of bale or flake feedstock, not just due to the cost driver but to feed growing plastic recycling capacities amid stagnant plastic collection rates domestically. Recently released trade data from the US Census Bureau shows US imports of plastic scrap – noted by the HS code 3915- continue to increase, having jumped 5% year on year to a total of 446,778 tonnes in 2023. Plastic scrap imports include items such as used bottles, but also other forms of recycled feedstock such as purge, leftover pairings and now also flake material. Specifically, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) scrap imports increased substantially in 2023, jumping 33% year on year to a record setting 204,278 tonnes in 2023. When looking at the geographic regions of the top 10 origin countries of US PET scrap imports, Mexico and Canada make up 34% of volume, tied with Asian countries at 34%, then followed by Latin America at 15%, Africa 5% and non-top 10 countries at 12%. The largest sender of PET scrap was Canada at 59,247 tonnes, increasing 21% by volume year on year. The second largest sender was Thailand, coming in at 23,346 tonnes, a 157% increase year on year. PET imports from Thailand now make up 11% of the total US PET plastic scrap imports, trailing Canada at 29%. Thailand's PET scrap export activity to the US has grown significantly, increasing 415% by volume in comparison to 2019. Similarly, Ecuador has step-wise increased the volume of PET scrap being sold to the US market, jumping 63% year on year and 414% since 2019, and thus becoming the third largest sender in 2023. Despite recent increases in ocean freight due to ongoing logistics challenges in the Red Sea and Panama Canal, imported flake prices continue to be price competitive in the US market. Imported flake prices on the West Coast were heard at 45-46 cents/lb DEL. East Coast imported flake was heard in the range of 52-55 cents/lb DEL. When looking at PET scrap export trends, volumes have fallen in 2023, but appear to be picking up again in the first quarter of 2024. PET scrap exports fell 14% year on year to 65,556 tonnes, which was mainly driven by decreased export activity to Germany. Volumes of PET scrap sent to Germany dropped 40% year on year , down to 6,156 tonnes. This is likely attributed to the fact that both the US and European recycled plastics markets saw lackluster demand in 2023, paired with fierce competition from lower cost virgin cargoes. Contrary to that trend, exported of PET scrap to Mexico increased 15% year on year, making up 54% of all US PET scrap exports. Across the northern hemisphere where cooler weather persists, R-PET markets typically experience peak of bottle bale supply tightness due to lower bottled beverage consumption. As a result, several regions have seen increased PET bottle bale pricing as supply has been limited. While the US is also has seen lower PET bale volumes, prices have yet to substantially move, thus making bale export opportunities much more attractive. At present, aggressive buying activity from Mexican recyclers continues to drive up US PET bale prices. Exports to Mexico have always made up a small portion of US PET bale sales from southern California or states like Texas, though the current activity has been notably strong. This is likely due to increased PET recycling capacity now in Mexico within the last year, as well as increased demand in Mexico from brand companies sourcing R-PET locally. Mexican PET bale prices were heard as high as 37-39 cents/lb locally. On the East Coast, deposit bales continue to be used domestically but also exported to Asian recyclers. While the US R-PET market in some ways has benefited from theses global trade partnerships, others note that competitive pellet imports continue to destroy domestic demand and foreign interest in bale feedstock has driven up pricing. As the US R-PET market continues to develop, there is no end in sight to influence from other regions. Focus by Emily Friedman

16-Feb-2024

INSIGHT: 2023 marks first year as US net plastic scrap importer, driven by PET imports increasing 33% year on year

HOUSTON (ICIS)–2023 was a year of record changes within US plastic scrap trade. While some relationships remain steadfast, such as the plastic scrap trade between North American partners Canada, Mexico and the US, other relationships are growing in strength, such as US importing activity from Asia, particularly for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic scrap. US becomes net importer of plastic scrap for the first time US PET scrap imported increase 33% year on year Canada, Mexico comprise 55% of US scrap exports, 58% of US scrap imports Full year trade data from the US Census Bureau shows US imports of plastic scrap – noted by the HS code 3915- continue to increase, having jumped 5% year on year to a total of 446,778 tonnes in 2023. Plastic scrap imports include items such as used bottles, but also other forms of recycled feedstock such as purge, leftover pairings and now also flake material. This comes at a time when domestic market conditions for recycled plastics are mixed. Many grades of plastic which are used for cost-sensitive applications, such as those which go into construction materials or durable good and packaging, have seen a severe withdrawal of demand, as low cost virgin material continues to flood the market. Even grades of sustainability driven recycled plastics, such as those going into consumer goods applications like beverages and personal care, have seen weaker market conditions domestically, as customers switch to imported recycled resin. Supporting the increase in imported scrap plastic, US recyclers who continue to have strong order volumes were heard to be supplementing their operations with imported feedstock. Several recyclers now purchase cheap spot or imported R-PET flake to process into their food grade pellet product and redirect their internally produced flake from high cost domestic bale feedstock to sell directly to customers. In the long term, the US will seek imports of bale or flake feedstock not just due to the cost driver but to feed growing plastic recycling capacities amid stagnant plastic collection rates domestically. Intra-North American recycled plastic trade relationships continue to show strength, as Canada and Mexico not only dominate as the origin location of plastic scrap import but also as top export destinations for US plastic scrap exports. 58% of the plastic scrap imported by the US came from Canada and Mexico combined, though Mexico's volumes notably dropped year on year, down 35% compared to 2022. Picking up the slack, US plastic scrap imports from Thailand increased by 103% year on year. Thailand is now the third largest country of imported plastic scrap origin. PET imports show tremendous growth The majority of plastic scrap received from Thailand was of the PET subcategory, coming in at 23,346 tonnes, a 157% increase year on year from Thailand alone. PET imports from Thailand now make up 11% of the total US PET plastic scrap imports, trailing Canada at 29%. Thailand's PET scrap export activity to the US has grown significantly, increasing 415% by volume in comparison to 2019. Similarly, Ecuador has step-wise increased the volume of PET scrap being sold to the US market, jumping 63% year on year and 414% since 2019. Market participants confirm they have seen a notable rise in imported recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) activity from Asia and Latin America, particularly due to their cost-competitive position in light of cheaper ocean freight rates in 2023. Imported PET scrap from Canada also saw a large change, increasing 21% by volume year on year to 59,247 tonnes. When looking at the geographic regions of the top 10 origin countries of US PET scrap imports, Mexico and Canada make up 34% of volume, tied with Asian countries at 34%, then followed by Latin America at 15%, Africa 5% and non-top 10 countries at 12%. In general, PET scrap imports increased substantially in 2023, jumping 33% year on year to a record setting 204,278 tonnes in 2023. When looking at the data by comparing quarters year-on-year, it is clear the market continues to face increased volatility. This is showcased by the wide swings in import volumes since 2020, when prior, quarterly import volumes were much more stable. Polyethylene (PE) also continues to be a leading polymer type for US plastic scrap imports, coming in at 63,206 tonnes in 2023. Of that volume, Canada is by far the largest contributor at 72%. On the other hand, PE scrap exports have fallen 16% year on year, likely due to lessened manufacturing activity amid macroeconomic pressure in 2023. Plastic scrap imports continue historic downward trend Similarly , PET scrap exports fell 14% year on year to 65,556 tonnes, which was mainly driven by decreased export activity to Germany. Volumes of PET scrap sent to Germany dropped 40% year on year, down to 6,156 tonnes. This is likely attributed to the fact that both the US and European recycled plastics markets saw lackluster demand in 2023, paired with fierce competition from lower cost virgin cargoes. Contrary to that trend, exported of PET scrap to Mexico increased 15% year on year, making up 54% of all US PET scrap exports. At present, aggressive buying activity from Mexican recyclers continues to drive up US PET bale prices. Exports to Mexico have always made up a small portion of US PET bale sales from southern California or states like Texas, though the current activity has been notably strong. This is likely due to increased PET recycling capacity now in Mexico within the last year, as well as increased demand in Mexico from brand companies sourcing R-PET locally. Similar to the US, this time of year when the weather is cooler results in lower consumption of beverages and thus a tighter supply of bottles available for collection. In general, US plastic scrap exports continue to follow a downward trend since 2017, dropping another 4% year on year. This trend has resulted in the US becoming a net plastic scrap importer, as total scrap trade is import positive at 26,408 tonnes. To reinforce how significant this change is, as of 2014 the US was net exporting 1,765,917 tonnes. Among the top destination countries for US plastic scrap exports were Canada, Mexico and India, Malaysia and Vietnam, with Canada and Mexico accounting for 55% of the overall volume in 2023.

16-Feb-2024

PODCAST: Sustainability, "cautiously-optimistic" outlook among key takeaways at The Packaging Conference

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Industry giants along the packaging value chain converged at The Packaging Conference this week, hoping to gain better insight into critical issues impacting the packaging space this year. Among the key topics, presenters and attendees continued to discuss innovation in sustainability, advocacy within legislation and market drivers that will steer 2024. Several presentations gave updates on innovative plastic recycling or sustainable solutions including novel recycling technologies as well as ground breaking packaging products which will enhance recyclability. Recycling processes included methanolysis, pyrolysis, enzymatic recycling and many others, including solutions for plastic waste sortation. Both presenters and attendees passionately advocated for more participation from the industry in ongoing policy talks, both at the state level in regards to extended producer legislation (EPR) which has been passed in four states and is proposed in five other states, as well as on the global stage in relation to the rapidly approaching United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) INC 4 meeting in Ottawa Canada, happening 23-29 April 2024. When talking on market dynamics, attendees shared that they are cautiously optimistic on 2024 packaging demand. Some presenters shared statistics reinforcing the market softness felt last year, such as the fact that both carbonated soft drinks and packaged alcoholic beverage sales volumes were down, though bottled water sales volumes grew, reaching over 16 billion gallons in 2023. This is supported by the continued weakness in consumer purchasing activity when it comes to convenience stores (C-stores), which were 6% down year on year  in December and 7.5% down in January year on year, according to the latest US Census data. Though 2023 packaging sales volumes were down, resin volume sales were hit even harder, as many in the chain worked through excess inventory throughout the year. That bsaid, destocking is largely agreed to be finished and so market players see 2024 as a year of similar underlying consumer demand but potentially better sales through the value chain. Tempering these predictions of a stronger year for packaging was the fact that global markets, particularly within the chemical industry, continue to show volatility, added with the fact that freight issues have laid a familiar blanket of uncertainty over the market in terms of material availability and rising costs. For more information on these topics, as well as other insights exchanged during the event, please reach out to Emily Friedman (emily.friedman@icis.com) or Antulio Borneo (Antulio.borneo@icis.com) The Packaging Conference was hosted 12-14 February 2024 at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas.

16-Feb-2024

VIDEO: Europe R-PET Colourless bale prices rise in southern, eastern Europe

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior editor for recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: Colourless flake prices rise in southern, eastern Europe markets Eastern Europe bale prices continue upward trend Many demand factors still at play in Europe

16-Feb-2024

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