PET bottle collection and recycling: the state of play

With less than two years to go before the European targets imposed by the Single Use Plastic (SUP) Directive, the challenge of the coming months will be to increase the efficiency of the selective and traditional collection system. There are two challenging targets for the Italian system: territories must collect at least 77% of post-consumer PET bottles by 2025 and 90% by 2029. At the same time, those who use these containers to sell their products will be obliged to produce them with at least 25% recycled PET from 2025 and 30% from 2030.

The press conference entitled "Let's collect the future: selective collection and European targets", organized by Coripet and held on 24th January in the press room of the Chamber of Deputies, was the occasion to discuss this issue and the next steps for the Italian collection and recycling chain. The meeting, which was introduced by the Minister for the Environment and Energy Security, Prof. Pichetto Fratin, was attended by Erica Mazzetti, Member of the Eighth Environmental Commission, Dr. Corrado Dentis, President of Coripet, Dr. Mirko Nigro, Chartered Accountant and expert in corporate finance, and Prof. Francesco de Leonardis, Professor of Administrative Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Rome 3. The meeting will be chaired by Mr Alessandro Astorino, Head of Relations with Parliament, Unione Stampa Periodica Italiana.

Coripet's role is more relevant than ever because the UAS Directive, in addition to banning certain single-use items, also regulates the end-of-life of PET bottles and, for the first time, specifies both collection targets and the use of RPET in the production of new bottles. The UAS regulation thus recognises both the recyclability of PET bottles and the existence of an entire industrial chain ready to send large quantities of them for recycling.

Since 2020, Coripet has installed ecocompactors in a large part of the national territory, thus launching an effective selective collection method that has grown steadily over the years.

"The data confirm not only a gradual growth but also a good response from citizens," says CORIPET President Corrado Dentis. "In 2023 there will be 1206 eco-compactors installed, with a recycling of over 141 million bottles and an increase of +100% compared to previous years. Our goal is to reach 5,000 installed machines in the coming years, increasing the percentage of recycling achieved by the eco-compactors'. 

"Our attention is also focusing on food RPET," Dentis continues, "the use of which in Italy is very low, 9%, we could say almost absent.  There is a market to be created and a first target to be reached, namely at least 25% of recycled plastic for food use by 2025'.