Circularity and innovation - shaping the future of PET

Circularity and innovation…

Each year the European PET value chain meets in Brussels for the annual Petcore Europe Conference. This year the two day conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Brussels Hotel to welcome more than 300 industry delegates.

Under the theme “Circularity and Innovation - Shaping the future of PET”, the complete PET industry sector shared perspectives and strategies for a succesful and even more circular future on 5 and 6 February. From PET resin producers, masterbatch producers, packaging designers and manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, label producers to major brand owners, EPR schemes, waste management organisations, recyclers, waste sorting and recycling machinery manufacturers - the entire value chain was represented. Additionally, speakers and participants from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Eunomia shared their thoughts on the PET market as well as the plastics industry in the Circular Economy.

"Petcore Europe represents the entire PET value chain since 1993. The strength of the organisation is the engagement of over 90 participating member organisations working together on the circularity of PET through working groups and projects", stated Stephen Short, President of Petcore Europe, when opening the conference. 

"This engagement of all members, in combination with Petcore Europe's commitment to look for the entire sustainable packaging solution as a united industry, is a great value for all stakeholders involved. Petcore Europe's growth over the past two years is remarkable, we could welcome over 50 new members", added Christian Crepet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe.

Day 1 - Perspectives and Strategy for the PET value chain

2018/2019 PET market developments

The focus of the first session of the day was to give an overview of the current PET market. Andy Grant from Eunomia gave an overview of the  PET collection and recycling rates for 2018/2019 as well as the key drivers of the market. According to Eunomia, significant improvements have been made in recycling processes and with the increasing quality of materials, rPET could reach as much as 55% of total PET demand by 2030. Details regarding the during the conference published report "PET Market in Europe : State of Play. Production, collection and sorting data. Eunomia. 2020" can be found on the Petcore Europe website. 

Afterwards, Alessandra Funcia, Head of Sales and Marketing Sukano, presented Petcore Europe’s two major working groups: WG PET Thermoforms Reccyling and WG on Recycling of Opaque and

Functional PET packaging (former ODR). Alessandra focused on Design for Recycling as well as solutions for the uptake of recycled material from PET trays and ODR packaging.

Sebastian Lemp, from Petcore Europe then focused on the need for the PET industry to communicate and showcase the (environmental) benefits of PET. Sebastian introduced some projects and strategies of other like-minded organizations and iniatives and concluded: "It's time to work together and make the circularity of PET understood amongst policy makers and the public". 

In the second session of the first day, experts from the PET value chain gave strategic outlooks from the PET producers', converters' and recyclers' point of view.

Steve Scott, Chairman of the Committee of PET Manufacturers Europe (CPME), addressed the PET market from the European PET producers perspective, providing his analysis of market developments as well as innovation and investement challenges.

Nicolas Lorenz, from PACCOR, gave a converter’s vision for the future in his presentation, in which he focused on PET trays. The presentation showcased key areas for the future of PET and contained a strong message to the value chain: "We, the packaging manufacturers must work together to find out how packaging can be connected with the environment in the future."

In the third presentation of this session, Casper van den Dungen, Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), gave a summary on what has changed in the past 12 months as well as an overview of the efforts needed to meet future recycling targets.

The session ended with Antonello Ciotti, President of Corepla, who presented how in Italy the industry is taking full responsability of collecting and recycling plastics packaging. Corepla is a prime example of the industry making efforts to meet the Circular Economy targets.

The third and last session of the day focused on technical challenges for the PET industry.

Marie-Catherine Coquin from Danone and Cesar Velilla from Nestle Waters provided an overview of good practices for NIAS (non-intentionally added substances) evaluation and the work of the Petcore Europe Special Industry Group on PET NIAS (PING).

In the last presentation of the day, Professor John Fawell from the University of Cranfield presented microplastisc myths vs. scientific work done in the area. Professor Fawell concluded his presentation by stating the following: "We do not want scare stories about microplastic particles in drinking and bottled water to distract attention from the bigger issue of plastic waste in the environment and our individual responsibility for disposing of plastic waste safely."

At the end of the first conference day, a cocktail and dinner event facilitated a period of networking for the participants to exchange views on the conference and key issues for the PET value chain.