The global recycled plastic market is flourishing, due to the increasing focus on reducing plastic waste volume, government policies and initiatives to increase the adoption of recycled products, and growing consciousness of energy savings. Because of these factors, the industry will likely garner $124,314.1 million revenue by 2030, advancing at a CAGR of 8.5% during 2021–2030.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of plastic recycling operations reduced, due to several restrictions, lockdowns, and economical fluctuations. Another consequence of the pandemic was intensified price war between recycled and new plastics, made by the oil industry. The new plastic is usually cheaper than recycled plastic, but weak oil prices widened the gap. Since COVID-19, the most commonly used form of recycled plastics, such as drinks bottles, became 83–93% more expensive than new bottle-grade plastics. However, the plastic recycling industry is expected to grow at a higher rate than before in the pre-pandemic era, as many countries have re-started their war against single-use plastic and recycling plastic waste.
Among different plastic materials, PE generated around 50% revenue share in the market in 2021. PE-based products have high-volume application areas in the food and beverage, consumer products, and construction industries. The high-recycling rate is ascribed to the high demand for recycled products, and the relative ease of recycling of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) over PS, PVC, and nylon. These are responsible for high-capacity utilization and subsequent production of recycled products in the market.
The processing and subsequent production of recycled plastics from waste packaging materials held, as estimated, the largest revenue share in 2021, based on source. The market in this category is also expected to augment at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The diverse application areas of packaging materials for products such as perishable and non-perishable food items, detergents, soaps, beverages, shopping bags, medicines, cutlery, buckets, boxes, and other consumer goods, combined with their short-use lifecycle, are responsible for the generation of a large number of recyclable plastic waste substrates. This, combined with domestic and foreign processing capabilities for these items, accounts for the huge size of the market in this category.
Geographically, APAC holds largest volume and value shares in the recycled plastic market. This growth can be attributed to the development of a significant number of small-scale processing facilities in the region. Furthermore, in the long run, the market is expected to recover from the instability caused by the ban, with South Asian countries taking a significant share in the market, owing to the presence of low-cost labor and lenient environmental norms and regulations.
The APAC market has witnessed a major transition in recent years. Since the ban on imports of 24 types of non-industrial waste plastics by China in 2017, the exponential increase in the imports of waste plastics to South Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and Vietnam, has been noticed. This has been mirrored with the shifting of a large number of China-based manufacturers to these locations and a congruent ramp-up of plastic processing capacities in these countries.
Players in the market are expanding their foothold by facility expansion to target more customers. For instance:
Some of the major players operating in the recycled plastic market include MBA Polymers Inc., Phoenix Technologies International LLC, Vikoz Enterprises Inc., Terracycle US Inc., KW Plastics, DS Smith Plc, PETCO, Waste Connections Inc., and Custom Polymers Inc.