Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics

Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses

Plastics have become one of the most prolific materials on the planet: in 2015 we produced about 380 million tonnes of plastics globally, up from 2 million tonnes in the 1950s. Yet today only 15% of this plastic waste is collected and recycled into secondary plastics globally each year. This report looks at why this is the case and what we can do about it, as the pervasiveness of plastics is becoming an urgent public health and planetary problem. Not only is the diffusion of waste plastics into the wider environment creating hugely negative impacts, but plastics production emits approximately 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually as a result of the energy used in their production, transport, and final waste treatment. Improved plastics collection and recycling represents a promising solution to these concerns.

Published on May 24, 2018


Acronyms and abbreviations
Currency conversions
Executive summary
Plastics production
Recycling plastics
The recycled plastics industry
Markets and trade in waste plastics
Barriers and interventions
Annexes19 chapters available
Overview of plastics production processes
Degradation definitions
Lifecycle analysis
Scottish Carbon Metric Detail
International Waste Hierarchy according to the IPCC
Recycling targets
Plastic waste disposal, recovery and recycling in Europe
Summary of polymer specific data from OECD questionnaire responses
Plastic sorters in the UK
Summary of key data sources for recycled plastics
Exports of waste plastics
Imports of waste plastics
Time series analysis of prices paid for recycled plastics in China
Overview of policies details provided by OECD questionnaire respondents
Detailed assessment of interventions
Examples of innovation in plastics
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