Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics Market Expands as Industries Embrace Circular Economy

Post-consumer recycled plastics, or PCR plastics, are used plastics that have been collected, processed, and made into new plastic items after being used by consumers. These plastics come from a variety of materials, such as packaging supplies, bottles, containers, and other plastic products that have used up their useful lives. The global post-consumer recycled plastics market size is projected to grow from USD 14.2 billion in 2020 to USD 18.8 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2020 to 2025.

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The process of creating post-consumer recycled plastics typically involves several steps:

  • Collection: Plastic waste is collected from households, recycling bins, and recycling centers. This waste is often sorted and separated based on the type of plastic.
  • Sorting and cleaning: The collected plastic is sorted based on its resin identification code, which indicates the type of plastic resin used in the product (such as PET, HDPE, LDPE, etc.). The plastics are then cleaned to remove any impurities, such as labels, adhesives, or contaminants.
  • Shredding and melting: The cleaned plastic is shredded into small pieces or flakes. These flakes are then melted to form a molten plastic mass.
  • Extrusion or molding: The molten plastic is extruded into thin strands or molded into various shapes, depending on the desired end product. The extruded plastic can be used to create fibers for textiles or filament for 3D printing, while molded plastic can be used for new containers, packaging, or other plastic products.
  • Manufacturing new products: The extruded or molded plastic is further processed to create new products. It may be blended with virgin plastic or other additives to achieve the desired properties. The final products made from post-consumer recycled plastics can include items such as bottles, containers, bags, furniture, automotive parts, and more.

In terms of value, recycling is estimated to lead the post-consumer recycled plastics market.

Recycling is a significant driver in the post-consumer recycled plastics market and is estimated to hold a significant share of its value. Recycling plays a crucial role in diverting plastic waste from landfills and reducing the need for virgin plastic production. It allows for the recovery of valuable resources from used plastics and supports the principles of sustainability and the circular economy.

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The recycling process involves collecting, sorting, and processing plastic waste into reusable materials. These materials can then be used as feedstock for manufacturing new plastic products. Recycling offers numerous benefits, including conserving natural resources, reducing energy consumption, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating environmental pollution.

PP is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment in the post-consumer recycled plastics market

PP, by polymer type, is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment in the post-consumer recycled plastics market from 2020 to 2025, in terms of volume. Products made from PP offer high stiffness, heat resistance, steam barrier properties (food protection), elasticity (film and fiber applications), enhanced transparency, strong impact & rigidity balance. The resistance of PP to permeation is equivalent to or marginally better than that of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and superior to low-density polyethylene (LDPE). It is recyclable and reused in various applications besides manufacturing plastics. These properties have led to an increasing preference for PP in the manufacture of packaging units used in the food & beverage, pharmaceutical, electronic, and packaging industries. Few packaging applications include bottles, crates, films, and pots.

The packaging application is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period

The packaging application is indeed estimated to be the fastest-growing segment in the post-consumer recycled plastics market. Packaging plays a significant role in industries such as food and beverages, consumer goods, and e-commerce, and there is a growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions.

Post-consumer recycled plastics offer several advantages for packaging applications, including reduced environmental impact, lower carbon footprint, and resource conservation. They can be used to produce packaging materials such as bottles, containers, films, and trays, among others.

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The APAC region is projected to account for the largest share in the post-consumer recycled plastics market during the forecast period.

the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is expected to account for the largest share in the post-consumer recycled plastics market. Several factors contribute to this projection:

  • Growing population and urbanization: The APAC region has a significant and rapidly growing population, accompanied by increasing urbanization. This leads to a higher volume of plastic consumption and, consequently, generates substantial post-consumer plastic waste that can be recycled.
  • Rising Demand for Sustainable Packaging: With the growth of e-commerce and a shift towards sustainable packaging, there is a higher demand for recycled plastics in the APAC region. Companies are adopting recycled plastics as an alternative to virgin plastics to reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals.
  • Industrial growth and manufacturing activities: The APAC region is a hub for manufacturing activities across various industries, including packaging, automotive, electronics, and consumer goods. These industries have a high demand for plastics, making the region a significant generator of post-consumer plastic waste. The adoption of post-consumer recycled plastics in these industries is driven by both environmental concerns and regulatory requirements.
  • Government initiatives and regulations: Governments in the APAC region are increasingly implementing policies and regulations to address plastic waste and promote recycling. These initiatives include setting recycling targets, implementing extended producer responsibility programs, and supporting the use of recycled materials. Such measures create a favorable environment for the growth of the post-consumer recycled plastics market.
  • Increasing awareness and environmental consciousness: Awareness of environmental issues and sustainable practices is rising in the APAC region, driven by factors such as the increasing middle-class population, urbanization, and access to information. Consumers are becoming more conscious of their consumption patterns and the environmental impact of plastic waste, which drives the demand for recycled plastics.

The key players operating in the post-consumer recycled plastics market are Veolia Environnement S.A. (France), SUEZ (France), Waste Management Inc. (US), Republic Services Inc. (US), Stericycle Inc. (US) and others.

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