R-PET imports can bridge the Europe collection shortage - distributor

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/12

AMSTERDAM (ICIS)--The structural undersupply of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) available for the packaging sector will necessitate imports from outside of the EU, according to Raffi Schier, European director at Bantam Materials International, on Tuesday.

Picture source: DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA-EFE/REX/ShutterstockSchier, speaking at the ICIS PET Value Chain conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, quoted from ICIS analysis showing that current collection volumes are only enough for  packaging and beverage companies to include just 16.08% R-PET content across the industry.

“If we have 16% supply… how do you bridge that gap? You bridge it with non-EU material,” Schier said.

On the back of expected shortages in the R-PET flake market during the second quarter when the peak packaging season typically begins, resulting from a raft of brand-commitments to minimum R-PET content in recent months, several flake buyers are actively investigating importing from overseas markets – in particular North Africa, Middle East, and the UK – to make-up anticipated shortfalls.

For food-grade pellet buyers, however, traceability requirements for EU food-contact certification make importing material from overseas to counterbalance any shortages problematic.

“One of the easiest ways [to provide traceability] is to have a barcode and you can have traceability throughout the system. [European] recyclers do not do that,” Schier said.

He went on to talk about the stigma of using non-EU material, and how using material from smaller developing countries where the recycling system is controllable and quality can be ensured could provide a solution to shortages.

“There is a structural undersupply of R-PET, there's also a requirement for removing ocean plastics. When you put those facts together, and if you have 5-6 suppliers, why wouldn’t one of those be non-EU?” Schier said.

Schier had earlier outlined how the majority of plastic waste entering oceans originates from the developing world and that there is a moral obligation to tackle the source of the problem.

He also argued that incentives to make deposit return schemes work in developing countries were lower than in Europe.

“It takes 10 times the incentive to get a deposit scheme somewhere like Germany to work than in a developing country," Schier said.

The ICIS PET Value Chain conference runs from 12-13 March.

(Picture source: Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)