The Compelling Facts About Plastics- an analysis for 2006

Plastics recovery reach 50% and growth in demand outpace GDP by 50% The plastics industry publishes its 17th report on trends in production, demand and recovery of plastics called the “Compelling Facts about Plastics 2006”.

2006 was the year when recovery of plastics reached the 50% for the first time. Underpinned by strong growth in mechanical recycling as well as energy recovery resulted in 3% points increase over 2005. This was achieved in a year with a strong growth in demand - 4% - to a total of 49.5 million tonnes across EU25+NO,CH exceeding GDP by 50%. 7 countries (representing 29% of the population in EU25+NO/CH) recover more than 80% of their used plastics and are near realising their divert from landfill vision.
The key observations for 2006 are:

Demand growth outpace GDP by 50%
Demand in EU25+N,CH grew by 4% over 2005, exceeding GDP by 50% to reach 49.5 million tonnes up from 47.5 million tonnes in 2005. Globally demand grew to 245 million tonnes, up from 235 million tonnes in 2005.

Plastics are now recovered to 50%
Half of all post-consumer plastics ending up as waste were recovered either as recycling or as energy recovery. Recycling rates increased to 19.7% and energy recovery rates to 30.3%.

Divert from landfill vision comes through
Countries like Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands and Belgium recover more than 80% of their waste. They are all near to realize diversion from landfill.
Recovery progress however remains slow amongst countries wit
lower rates. Still half of the Member States recover less than 30%. This partly reflects the slow political process and partly the long lead times for energy recovery options. Again it is proven that good performance on energy recovery is not contradictory to good performance on recycling.

Despite quantity of used plastics increased, the amount going to landfill continued to drop
Driven by economic development and increased substitution by
plastics in a range of applications the quantity of post-consumer plastics waste increased by 1 million tonnes- or 4% - over 2005. However thanks to the strong increase in recovery the quantity goin to landfill fell by 1%.
This confirms the observation since a few years that: There is decoupling of economic growth and plastics going to landfill.

Mechanical recycling grew 18% and energy recovery grew
9% over 2005
Driven by increasing virgin material prices, improved collection and sorting technology, improved schemes and strong demand,mechanical recycling saw an accelerating growth. Compared to the past trend the increase nearly doubled in 2006. Applications driving this growth include traditional streams like bottles and film but also e.g. window profiles. Capacity for closed loop recycling is being installed in a number of countries.
Energy recovery saw the historic growth continue in 2006 reflecting that this option require longer lead times and is hence less responsive to market driver.