The global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market size was valued at USD 9,626.75 million in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 16,333.36 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 6.05% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
PET, also called polyethylene terephthalate, is a kind of plastic resin and a subtype of polyester. It is completely recyclable and can be transformed into recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or rPET. The substance, essentially a polymer, is created by mixing two monomers, modified ethylene glycol and pure terephthalic acid. Products including peanut butter, beverages, produce, bakery items, salad, frozen foods, cosmetics, dressings, and home cleansers frequently use it as a packaging material.
PET is extremely well-liked because it is transparent, thermostable, and highly strong. Moreover, it is inexpensive, shatterproof, resealable, lightweight, and, most importantly, recyclable. Plastics that were formerly utilized as packaging materials are recycled to produce rPET. Plastic bottles are one example of them. It is collected, cleaned, and sorted before being transformed into rPET, which can be used for fresh packaging.
Rising concerns about sustainability reduced plastic waste, and efforts to improve the circular economy in the developing economies of North America and Europe are estimated to have a positive consequence on demand for recycled PET over the forecast period. Using recycled PET is expected to help reduce the energy and natural resources (petroleum, water) required to produce virgin plastic.
Approximately 56% of Americans are thought to be willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. This gives companies huge financial incentives to invest smartly in sustainable practices. Companies that use recycled PET as packaging options are expected to be more competitive. This has resulted in a surged emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer goods manufacturers. Companies are continuously developing product lines using recycled materials to address the rising concerns regarding the toxic effects of plastic waste, thereby fueling market expansion.
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) is one of the most frequently used recycled plastics worldwide and is highly recyclable. Many uses for RPET include fiber for carpets, clothing, upholstery, sweaters, fiber-fill for pillows and sleeping bags, sheets and films, and automotive components. The demand for RPET is backed by its performance comparable to that of virgin PET. However, one of the most important and rapidly expanding applications of RPET is in the food packaging industry and food-grade bottles and containers.
Significant global beverage and fast-moving consumer goods companies have committed to using plastic packaging made from at least 50% recycled material by 2030. Hence, it is anticipated that demand for recycled materials certified for utilization in food will increase. However, it will be very challenging for these companies to obtain sufficient quantities of high-quality RPET in the long run due to the current constrained global supply of food-grade recycled plastic. As a result, several RPET converters have seen this as an opportunity to increase their production capabilities for food-grade RPET domestically and internationally.
The process of recycling plastic can be particularly harmful to the environment. Environmental emissions during the process are categorized as atmospheric emissions, waterborne emissions, and solid wastes. Atmospheric emissions include regulated emissions, such as pollutants, and non-regulated emissions, such as carbon dioxide. Virgin PET consists of 80% to 85% antimony, which is converted to antimony trioxide at a very high temperature required during recycling. It is released into the atmosphere, making it available for intake into living systems.
Additionally, the recycling process leads to the formation of such harmful particles owing to which the growth of the recycled PET market is being affected negatively. Plastic resin is manufactured from petroleum, which can leech into foods stored in recycled plastic containers. This is not cited as a major threat, but plastic manufacturers carefully use only a small amount of recycled plastic in food packaging. Harmful environmental emissions have restricted the growth of the recycled PET market.
The ban on landfills or restriction has been introduced in several developed nations in North America and Europe, such as Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and several states in the U.S. and Canadian provinces. Europe has had landfill restrictions in place for decades. In addition, plans are being prepared in the U.K., and legislation has been passed in Australia to introduce several restrictions over the next few years.
Landfill bans refer to the measures initiated to reduce waste disposal in landfills, which include outright exclusions and requirements for pre-treatment or pre-sorting. This also includes unsorted wastes or wastes determined by their organic content, such as liquid wastes, packaging, timber, biodegradable wastes, paper, e-waste, and batteries. In addition, the landfill tipping fees and dumping tariffs are high, and maintaining and closing a landfill is expensive. Therefore, recycling is preferable, as 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space can be preserved per ton of plastic recycled. The increasing usage of recycled PET products helps in the elimination of plastic in landfill which is anticipated to reduce the costs related to landfills, thereby creating opportunities for market growth.
The global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market is segmented by product and application.
Based on the product, the global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market is bifurcated into clear recycled PET and colored recycled PET.
The clear recycled PET segment dominates the global market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% over the forecast period. Owing to its widespread application in food and non-food applications and the low manufacturing cost, clear type rPET is the most popular variety. In contrast to opaque or colored PET, most producers favor using transparent granules or flakes to make containers and bottles. Moreover, transparent rPET goods make it simpler to spot product variances such as color changes brought on by fungal growth, chemical reactions brought on by poor storage conditions, and fungal development itself. In addition, low energy requirements and straightforward bottle-to-bottle recycling will drive the clear recycled PET market over the forecast period. Due to its strength, lightweight, non-reactive, and shatterproof qualities, the clear rPET segment is anticipated to increase quickly.
Colored rPET has been gaining prominence among various food and non-food beverage manufacturers due to its ability to add a striking visual. Colored packaging helps in brand differentiation and imparts a unique look. Manufacturers of milk and personal care products are switching from HDPE to colored rPET to reduce costs and advance toward sustainability, according to recent market trends. Although it is difficult and expensive to process colored PET, it is projected that the rising use of colored PET will present challenges for recyclers. High levels of colored PET impact the margins of recyclers in recycling feedstock, which raises the processing and manufacturing costs of rPET.
In addition, major application areas of colored rPET are automotive trays, in-process protective packaging, electronics and electrical packaging, containers, transit trays, healthcare packaging, and other plastic trays. Colored rPET is also used to produce fabrics, clothing, and various packaging applications.
Based on application, the global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market is segmented into fiber, sheet and film, strapping, food and beverage containers and bottles, non-food containers and bottles, and others.
The fiber segment owns the highest market share and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period. Several garments, including t-shirts and coats, use fiber made from recycled PET. Moreover, it produces carpets, couches and chairs, and car seat covers. The market for recycled PET is anticipated to increase due to favorable government legislation and the low cost of apparel production. Global investments in sports activities are expanding the sports apparel and accessories market, which will likely fuel demand for recycled PET fibers. The most popular products made from recycled PET fiber are sports team jerseys.
The growing goods transportation market and high tensile strength of rPET straps are expected to fuel the demand for recycled PET. The strap is commonly used for packaging, bundling, and banding goods to combine, stabilize, reinforce, hold, and fasten the products and reduce the risk of damage during transportation. Recycled PET strap does not damage or contaminate packaging goods, has high shock absorption, puts less pressure on the edges of packages, retains strap tension despite the shrinking of packages, and can be handled easily.
Furthermore, recycled PET strap finds use in various industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, iron and steel, and household. Owing to the high tensile strength and endurance level of the rPET strap, it is preferred over the steel strap, which breaks easily under high pressure.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market
Based on region, the global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant global recycled polyethylene terephthalate market shareholder and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period. In addition to cheap and plentiful skilled labor, land is readily available across Asia. The production environment is expected to shift in favor of developing nations, particularly China and India, over the forecast period. The region is home to several quickly growing companies in construction, automotive, electronics, and other fields that offer enormous potential for rPET producers. Further, most of the world's rPET resins are produced and used in Asia-Pacific. Due to sizable production facilities and a robust recycling industry, almost all types of application goods made from rPET resins are produced in the area. The major factor driving rPET demand in Asia is the increasing demand for food and non-food bottles across many application industries and growing economies. In addition, growing pharmaceutical, personal care, and home care industries, coupled with rising disposable income, are expected to boost the growth of the rPET market in the region.
Europe is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.0% over the forecast period. Many European nations, including France, Denmark, Germany, and Austria, have banned landfills for years. High landfill tipping fees, dumping tariffs, functional waste management systems, and closing costs of landfills have encouraged the locals to switch to rPET products in the region. As landfill taxes in some countries are extremely high, the dumping cost is sometimes more than recycling PET. This is encouraging people's involvement in plastic collection and recycling in Europe. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry witnessed a decline of 24%, severely impacting the demand for recycled plastics in the region.
Additionally, the region's rising demand for electric vehicles is projected to open up an attractive potential for rPET during the forecast period. In 2019, 1.8 million electric vehicles were registered throughout the region, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. The region's recycled PET market is anticipated to develop as closure regulations loosen, the construction industry picks back up, and demand for electric vehicles increases.
In North America, the extensive application scope of rPET in various important application industries, including FMCG, consumer goods, clothing and textile, and automotive, is the main reason for boosting the RPET demand. A respectable rPET market has developed in the area due to numerous government efforts and significant investments to encourage plastic recycling. Despite significant investments, most post-consumer PET bottles are transported to Southeast Asian countries for recycling before being reimported to the appropriate nation in North America as brand-new PET bottles. According to the World Economic Forum, the outbreak of COVID-19 has made plastic waste management and recycling more complex as the demand for single-use personal protective equipment has increased.
In addition, the mismanagement of infectious plastic waste poses a major challenge to plastic recycling. Regional market expansion is further aided by programs like How2Recycle by GreenBlue, a non-profit environmental organization working to raise awareness about recycling, its advantages, and its environmental effects. For instance, GreenBlue is working with over 220 companies and providing sustainable packaging design to make their packaging more recyclable.
Central and South America includes Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Venezuela. The surging demand for food and non-food bottles across several application industries and growing economies is majorly driving the rPET market in Central and South America. The booming recycling industry in countries like Brazil, coupled with growing investments by plastic and plastic recycling companies in the region, is anticipated to boost the market. For instance, Amcor in Ann Arbor created the lightest 900-ml PET bottle that is recyclable several times and was one of the most recent product breakthroughs in the area to promote PET recycling. Similarly, in May 2017, Chile banned single-use plastic bags and became the first country in South America to ban single-use plastics. Costa Rica is also working on strategies to eradicate single-use plastics by 2021. These initiatives by Central and South American countries are expected to expedite the demand for recycled PET over the forecast period.
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