Each year the European PET value chain meets in Brussels for the annual Petcore Europe Conference. Due to its continued success over recent past, this year the two day conference was held at a new venue to welcome more than 280 industry delegates. On 6 and 7 February, more than 280 delegates from the entire PET value chain from Europe and beyond gathered in the Renaissance Brussels Hotel, adjacent to the European Parliament Area of Brussels.
Under the theme "EU Plastics Strategy 2.0 - Taking the PET industry to the next step", the complete PET industry sector shared perspectives and strategies for a successful and even more circular future. From PET resin producers, masterbatch producers, packaging designers and manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, label producers to major brand owners, EPR schemes, waste management organizations, recyclers, waste sorting and recycling machinery manufacturers - the entire value chain was represented. Additionally, speakers and participants from the European Commission (DG GROW), the European Parliament as well as ICIS shared their thoughts on the PET market as well as the plastics industry in the European Circular Economy.
"Petcore Europe represents the entire PET value chain since 1993. The strength of the organization is the engagement of over 65 participating members, who are actively participating in working groups and projects", emphasized Christian Crepet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe, when opening the conference.
"This engagement of all members, in combination with Petcore Europe's commitment to recyclability and circularity, is a great value for the entire industry. Petcore Europe's growth over the past years is remarkable, in 2018 we could welcome 17 new members, in the first month of 2019, another 10 companies joined the association", added Stephen Short, newly elected President of Petcore Europe.
The focus of the first day was to set the stage of the present PET market status, collection and recycling rates. Susan Mair from ICIS gave an overview of the PET collection and recycling rates for 2017 as well as the key drivers of the market. According to ICIS "there is an under utilised PET recycling capacity of 300.000 tonnes due to a lack of material coming from collection processes"
Following the market assessment by ICIS, Alessandra Funcia, Head of Sales and Marketing Sukano, presented PETCore Europe’s programs of tow major working groups: PET Thermoforms and Opaque & Difficult to recycle PET containers. After the introduction, experts from the PET value chain gave presentations detailing the market overview.
Steve Scott, Chairman of the Committee of PET Manufacturers Europe (CPME), addressed the PET market from the perspectives of the European PET Producers perspective. He stressed the importance of chemical or back-to-monomer recycling and the essential role PET producers will play to achieve it.
Marc De Voogd, General Manager of Alpla France and Iberia, gave a converter’s vision for the future in his presentation. Accordingly, the demand for post-consumer recycled PET will increase drastically by 2025 which is the challenge for the whole industry.
Casper van den Dungen, Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) in the last presentation of this section gave an outlook on recycled PET up until 2030. The main points are firstly the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUP) will be the driver for the PET value developments and secondly, the PET bottle collection is required to improve considerably to reach the 77% collection target in 2025. Casper concluded the presentation with a call to the recycling industry: "Use the momentum to create the difference."
At the end of the first conference day, a cocktail hour plus dinner facilitated a period of networking for the participants to exchange views on the conference content and the overall PET business.
The second day of the conference continued where day one ended with a conference room full of representatives from the PET value chain - ready for the morning session focusing on "EU Plastics Strategy 2.0".
A significant highlight of the conference was the presentation of the European Strategy for Plastics in the circular economy by Laure Baillargeon from the European Commission - DG GROW. She gave insights in the newly launched Circular Plastics Alliance and stressed the fact that the European Commission is fully supportive of the plastics industry in delivering on the collection and reuse rates of plastics. It was also emphasised that the whole aspect of Life Cycle Analysis would be compared in decision making for preferred packaging alternatives.
In summary, Christian Crépet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe, stressed the importance of collaboration between the industry and policy makers and congratulated DG GROW for the Circular Plastics Alliance initiative.
Samuele Furfari (ULB) followed with a state-of-the-art presentation on the changing world of energy. According to the professor, who can look back at a long career in the European Commission where he implemented various energy policies and sustainable development, there is no new energy paradigm. The often predicted end of oil is not apparent.
Mike Neal on behalf of CPME, followed Samuele Furfari with an enlightening presentation concerning the regulatory perspective on the PET value chain.