Plastics Market in Europe is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% by 2024. The packaging is the leading application segment with a 41% share in the European Market. The high adoption rate of recycled plastics is witnessed in Europe over the past 5-years.

Plastics are the key materials used in diverse end-user industries owing to their superior strength, lightweight, low price, and ease of manufacturing. Plastics has been the dominating and potential replacement to metals over the decades in end-user industries including automotive, construction, electronics, consumer durables, and others.

However, the raw materials required for producing plastics are derived from petroleum sources. Major raw materials used for producing plastics include ethylene, propylene, butane, methanol, benzene, xylene and others which are derived from crude oil. About 4% of crude oil is utilized in the production of plastics in the global market. In addition, a similar percentage of crude oil used as energy for producing these plastics. Further, polyethylene, polypropylene, and PVC are the 3-dominant plastics used with 70% share in the global market.

Stringent regulations and mandate over the recycling of plastics by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European Union are turning around to be the breakthrough step towards significant reduction of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions causing environmental pollution during the plastic production.

In Europe, major applications of plastics include packaging with 41%, consumer goods with 22.5%, construction with 21%, automotive with 9.5% and others contributing to 10% share in the end-user industry during 2018.

Figure 1: List of Recycled Plastics and Applications


Europe had adopted stringent plastic recycling policies and regulations. For instance, the global plastic market in terms of production was 380 million tons in 2018 of which 67 million tons were produced in Europe. In Europe, stringent government regulations and ban over a landfill of plastic waste had resulted in more than 96% of plastic waste recovery rate for use in energy recovery and recycling in 9-leading countries which include Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands during 2018. Therefore, landfill ban in Europe had resulted in effective recovery and recycling of plastics which in turn result in an environmentally friendly approach for reducing the carbon emissions.

Further, according to Plastics Europe, trends in plastic waste collection in Europe for 2018 can be broadly distributed into recycling, landfill, and energy recovery as represented below:

Figure 2: Plastic Waste Collection in Europe 2018 (% share)

Plastic Waste Collection in Europe 2018

Further, plastic recycling is increased by 28% over the last 5-years in Europe. The packaging is the major end-user application for plastics, wherein, packaging waste is the highly recycled plastic with 42%-44% of packaging plastic is being recycled during 2018.

Lack of technology leading to difficulty in separation of impurities from plastic waste is the major challenge in plastic recycling. Further, high cost associated with the plastic recycling process was a key barrier to plastic recyclers. However, effective government support, mandate, funding over plastic recycling and ban on landfill is propelling the plastic recycling market in Europe. In addition, European Union is encouraging the recyclers towards development improved quality standards of recycled products, mandatory requirement to recycle all the packaging plastics, and reduced VAT on recycled products will boost the growth of recycled plastics market in Europe.

Plastic recycling Rates

In addition, European Commission strategic plans of launching pledging campaign over awareness on recycling of plastics, actions towards separation and collection of plastics for effective recycling, initiative and rules over labelling and use of biodegradable plastics, implementation of rules to reduce marine litter of plastics caused during delivery of waste from ships, strategic plans of increased usage of recycled plastics in diverse applications will propel the recycled plastics market in Europe.

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