The EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive was designed to target the most commonly littered items on European beaches, as part of the effort to reduce ocean plastic pollution. To incentivize the collection and recycling of valuable plastic resources, the legislation established recycled-content mandates for plastic beverage containers, setting a 25% target for recycled content in PET bottles by 2025 and 30% for all plastic bottles by 2030. The Directive also mandates a 90% target for the separate collection of plastic beverage bottles by 2029.
Upon signing the world’s most ambitious recycled content law for beverage containers to date, Governor Newsom explained, “California has long led the way on bold solutions in the climate space, and the steps we take today bring us closer to our ambitious goals.”
The law requires plastic beverage containers subject to a deposit (“California Refund Value”) to include 15% recycled content by 2022, 25% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. The state already had in place minimum recycled content requirements for glass containers, rigid plastic packaging containers, newsprint, trash bags, and other products.
New South Wales, Australia:
Investing in PET sorting and recycling facilities carries significant risk, largely due to a lack of security over infeed material volumes and the volatile market price of rPET explained above. To reduce the risk involved in such an investment, in New South Wales beverage producer Asahi and packaging manufacturer Pact committed to purchase a certain amount of food-grade PET pellets and hot-washed PET flake, should a facility be developed.
With this guaranteed assurance of a customer, Asahi, Pact and waste management company Cleanaway formed a joint venture, Circular Plastics Australia, to co-invest in a plastic pelletizing plant that would provide high-quality recycled content. The New South Wales government also provided a supporting grant and the deposit system Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, provided a long-term supply agreement.
This agreement ensures that the Network Operator has a guaranteed customer for plastic materials collected through the deposit system, Circular Plastics Australia has certainty of feedstock for its sorting plant and certainty of sale of the sorted product, and Asahi and Pact have certainty over access to a scarce resource that helps the companies reach sustainability commitments.
The facility is expected to increase the amount of locally-sourced recycled PET from 30,000 tons to 50,000 tons a year. It will be partly powered by solar energy, creating 300 direct and indirect jobs in its construction.* RecyclingMarkets.net lists baled PET market value data from deposit streams as 58% to 93% higher than baled PET from non-deposit streams. This refers to deposit vs non-deposit PET in the northeast USA, January-June 2020. Susan Collins of the Container Recycling Institute commented that this is higher than normal due to COVID-19 implications and deposit PET is typically 40% higher.