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Roadblocks at the bottle banks

Of the 10.2 million tons of nonwovens produced globally in 2015, around 2.3 million tons were based on polyester PET staple fibres and an estimated 32% of this output – 725,000 tons – was also made from PET fibres that had been recycled from drinks bottles, (known in the industry as rPET).

This is positive for the environment, but the recycled PET industry is currently in the doldrums for the simple reason that the price of virgin PET is far too low – especially in China where there is a considerable amount of overcapacity.

According to analysts PCI Wood Mackenzie, around 10.9 million tons of PET bottles and containers will be collected in 2016 – about half the total that could be reused – rising to around 14 million tons by 2020. Over 50% is collected in Asia, with China alone representing 28% of the global collection and consistently having the highest collection rate globally. Western Europe collects a further 18% and North America 13%.