PlasticFlow 2025 - Plastic Packaging Flow Data Report

12th October 2018

The estimated quantity of plastic packaging placed on the market & recycled from 2017 to 2025 and the probability of compliance with national & European recycling targets.

Key points
PlasticFlow 2025 estimates UK plastic POM for 2017 at 2,361k tonnes +/- 6%, a potential small increase of 141k tonnes[1] from the current estimate of 2,220k tonnes (2014).
Based on the projections, the UK is likely to meet packaging recycling targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and the CEP target in 2025.
However, without further actions the 70% UK Plastics Pact target for 2025 would be missed. WRAP is working with Pact members to develop and implement the required actions.

Project estimate plastic POM

Background

This project was commissioned by Valpak Limited and Defra, and carried out by Valpak Consulting, Verde Research & Consulting, Recoup and WRAP, to provide support for plastic packaging material flow estimates in Defra’s packaging policy work. The objective was to review the quantity of plastic packaging being placed on the market (POM) and recycled in 2017. The project also reviewed the implications of various scenarios for future recycling rates out to 2025. The method to achieve this was primary and secondary research with engagement of a stakeholder steering group.

Project Key Conclusions: Flow

  • The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of plastic packaging POM in 2017 was 2,361k tonnes. 
  • This estimate is 141k tonnes higher than the 2014 industry estimate of 2,220k tonnes.
  • The low growth scenarios for plastic packaging POM project POM is for it to reach 2,411k tonnes to 2,410k tonnes in 2025. The high growth scenario for POM project plastic packaging POM is for it to reach 2,601k tonnes in 2025.

Project Key Conclusions: Recycling

  • If measuring recycling on entry to reprocessing, the UK’s plastic packaging recycling rate is estimated at 47% (1111k tonnes recycled). If measured after conversion on the exit of reprocessing the rate would be lower at 43% (1026k tonnes recycled).
  • If measuring recycling on entry to reprocessing, the UK’s consumer plastic packaging recycling rate is estimated at 34% (525k tonnes recycled). If measured after conversion on the exit of reprocessing the rate would be lower at 30% (461k tonnes recycled).
  • If measuring recycling on entry to reprocessing, the UK’s consumer plastic packaging recycling rate is estimated at 78% (586k tonnes recycled). If measured after conversion on the exit of reprocessing the rate would be lower at 75% (565k tonnes recycled).

Data Sources

The amount of plastic packaging POM was calculated using the following methods and data sources:

  • Consumer: Packaging used in the consumer sector was estimated using retail sector sales data and packaging usage.
  • Non-consumer: Packaging used in the non-consumer sector was taken from a range of sources, including industry estimates of film production, the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) and various secondary data sources.
 

Data Uncertainties and Appropriate Confidence in Estimates 

The data presented in the Plastic Flow report intends to represent the best estimate possible, given the available data. However, owing to uncertainties inherent in many of the data sources and assumptions used, it is important to caveat the robustness of the estimates. Appendix III includes an assessment of the uncertainty and robustness of the estimates.

Meeting the EU Plastic Recycling Target

Assuming that the 2018 POM figure of 2,361k tonnes applies, based on this report’s projections of plastic packing POM and plastic packaging recycling, the UK is likely to meet packaging recycling targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and the CEP target in 2025.  

The probabilities of meeting the national equivalents of the business targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020 are 84%, 87% and 90% respectively, and 100% for the CEP target in 2025.