A study, recently conducted by the strategic consulting and market research firm, BlueWeave Consulting, revealed that the global plastic recycling market was worth USD 44.3 billion in 2021 and is further projected to reach USD 76.5 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.6% during the forecast period (2022-2028). Several factors drive the growth of the global plastic recycling market, such as the increasing demand for plastics, the growing consumption of plastics in lightweight components, and growing awareness regarding the negative environmental impact of plastics. In addition to this, government support and an increase in recycled plastic products are presenting lucrative opportunities for the global plastic recycling market.
Growing Plastic Production and Use Supporting Growth of Global Plastic Recycling Market
The use of plastic is so ubiquitous in our daily lives that we cannot imagine a world without it. Plastics are used across many industries due to their properties such as impact resistance, ease of transformation, insulation, ease of processing, high tensile strength, resistance to chemicals, moisture, corrosion, and more. According to National Geographic, around 50% of the total plastic ever manufactured has been produced in the last 15 years with plastic production surging from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons in 2015. National Geographic has further projected plastic production to get doubled by 2050.
The growing application of plastic in packaging, especially food packaging, has propelled the demand for plastics even more. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Moreover, four global food & beverages companies, i.e., Coca-Cola, Nestle, Danone, and Unilever generated around 6.06 million tons of plastic packaging waste in 2019. With the use and demand for plastic growing, the demand for plastic recycling is expected to go up during the forecast period, thus, driving the growth of the global plastic recycling market.
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The Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Segment Dominates the Market
Based on materials, the global plastic recycling market is segmented into polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and others. The PET segment dominated the market in 2020 and held the largest share due to a large number of plastic bottles used worldwide. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that around one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and PET is the primary material utilized in making plastic water bottles. The high recycling rate of PET is another reason for a dominant share of the segment in the market. According to PET Resin Association, the PET recycling rate is 31% in the United States and 52% in Europe. The segment is expected to retain its leading position during the forecast period as well owing to the growing use of PET in the packaging of food & beverages, salad dressings, peanut butter, cooking oils, mouthwash, shampoo, liquid hand soap, window cleaner, and even tennis balls.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Plastic Recycling Market
COVID-19 has negatively affected the growth of the global plastic recycling market as demand for face shields, packaging, and other plastic products skyrocketed during the pandemic. Fukutomi Recycling Ltd., a plastics recycler in Hong Kong, reports that extended lockdowns in South-East Asia have left only 30% of recyclers operating, and many are only operating at 50% of their recycling capacity. Furthermore, the demand for virgin plastics surged dramatically, causing further problems for the plastic recycling industry. Global lockdown severely affected global manufacturing industries and raw material supply, resulting in dramatic effects on the global plastic recycling industry. Additionally, insufficient container forwarding capacities, longer transit times due to blank sailings, and drastic increases in freight rates also affected the plastic recycling market in 2020 and 2021. Freight shortages are expected to persist until the first half of 2022, and a global energy crisis may further slow the global plastic recycling market.
Global Plastic Recycling Market: Regional Insights
The global plastic recycling market is segmented into five regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Among these regions, the Asia-Pacific region dominated the global plastic recycling market in 2020 due to the large volume of plastic waste generated in the region and the increasing number of plastic recycling initiatives in the region. Approximately 140 million tonnes of plastic waste will be generated in the region by 2030, according to United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD). Furthermore, new initiatives such as the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP), Surakimu Ganga, Rethink+, and others are also helping to increase awareness about plastic recycling and are expected to contribute to the growth of the plastic recycling market in the region over the forecast period.
The leading players in the plastic recycling market are KW Plastics, Veolia, Custom Polymers, Plastipak Holdings, The Coca-Cola Company Incorporated, Suez, B. Schoenberg & Co., Fresh Pak Corporation, B&B Plastics, Green Line Polymers, Ultra Poly Corporation, Clear Path Recycling, Jayplas, MBA Polymers, RJM International Inc., CarbonLite Industries LLC, Envision Plastics Industries LLC, ReVital Polymers and Other prominent players. Market competitors compete on the basis of product quality as well as new and cost-effective manufacturing processes that can improve yield and optimize the process for more and better output.
In October 2021, ExxonMobil announced its plan of building its first, large-scale plastic waste advanced recycling facility in its Baytown, Texas plant. The plastic recycling plant is expected to start operations by year-end 2022. Upon completion, the facility will be one of the largest plastic waste recycling facilities in North America with an initial planned capacity to recycle 30,000 metric tons of plastic waste per year.
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