Friday, June 05, 2020

PET recycling grows in Brazil, but pandemic can hinder collection

Brazil recycled 55% of pet packaging discarded by the population in 2019. The volume is equivalent to 311,000 tons of the product – 12% higher than in 2018 – which generated revenues of more than R$ 3.6 billion, corresponding to 36% of the total revenue of the PET sector in Brazil. The information is from the 11th Census of PET Recycling in Brazil, prepared by the Brazilian Association of the PET Industry (Abipet), with the participation of 160 companies from all over the country. This group is divided between recyclers (22%); applicators, who are companies that acquire and use recycled PET in their products (70%); and integrated, which recycle and also use the material in the manufacture of items that return to the market (8%). "The growth seen in 2019 is a reflection of the strengthening of the circular economy, composed of a diversified industry that uses recycled PET in its products. The creation of this chain, made over 20 years, results in a consistent demand, which creates value for PET recycling," says Auri Marçon, Ceo of Abipet. According to the executive, The Brazilian performance is higher than that of developed countries, such as the United States, for example, which recycle 29% of their PET packaging. Even the European Union, which, despite collecting 58.2% of post-consumption PET, does not recycle the material and sends much of it to be processed in other poorer countries. The breadth in the use of recycled PET happens because Brazil is a world leader in different applications for recycled PET, which generates demand for the product, reverted in billing and income for various links in society. The main consumers/applicators of recycled PET in Brazil are manufacturers of preforms and bottles, with 23% of the total, in a process known as "bottle to bottle", mainly due to the increase in the production of food grade packaging, which in recent years has shown a great technological evolution. Next comes the textile industry (22%), laminated and thermoformed (bandejinhas) (17%), chemical sector (15%) and arching tapes (10%). Other applications account for the use of the remaining 10% of recycled PET. Because of this diversity, recycled PET is found in garments – basically polyester used in the composition of fabrics – plastic bottles and packaging used by major manufacturers of soft drinks and beverages, beauty and cleaning products, paints and varnishes, carpets and automotive carpets, among others. The census conducted by Abipet also identified that, due to limitations in the collection system, recycling companies work, on average, with idleness greater than 30%. This means that, due to investments already made, the industry is ready to absorb possible growth in recycling in the coming years. For the Abipet executive, however, this increase will only come from the construction of large sorting centers to separate recyclable materials, the increase in selective collection and the number of waste picker cooperatives. "Only these initiatives, coupled with the correct disposal made by citizens, will be able to supply the recycling lines. We need to prevent packaging from continuing to be buried in dumps and landfills, resulting in a waste of raw material that could be very useful to society, generating employment, income and, obviously, preserving the environment", he concludes. The difficulty that the coronavirus pandemic generates, both for the collection of materials and for the demand for recycled products, represents the main challenge for Brazil to maintain the growth curve of PET recycling verified in recent years. Activity accelerated in 2019 and returned to the positive level of 2014, before the economic crisis. The risk of coronavirus infection, however, carries some risk of reducing the collection, given the possibility of interrupting the activity of waste pickers, cooperatives and recyclable traders (sucateiros). This is despite a scenario of increased unemployment, which can lead part of the population to this subsistence activity. The situation is less critical among recyclers. In the case of PET, due to normal seasonalities within the chain, companies form sufficient raw material stock for one or two months of activity. In addition, some consumer segments of recycled PET have been decreasing the demand for the product used in their products, such as sectors such as textile, chemical, for rations and automotive parts and for civil construction. Being an international commodity, the PET market ends up being guided by the price of oil in the world market, which has led to the reduction of the value of virgin resin before the recycled. Although the current exchange rate compensates for much of this drop, this puts down the price of recycled material, which historically does not have as much flexibility to reduce, because it already works with low margins, both in the collection stage and in industrial activity.
Embalagem Marca - 28/05/2020 News Item translated automatically
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