The outlook for recycled plastic in packaging relies heavily on several key factors, most importantly:
- content targets set by packaging producers and by end users
- the levels of collection and processing that occur in the US
Trends in these areas are reliant on changing consumer preferences and on governmental and community action, which can be unpredictable and volatile.
To forecast the outlook for recycled plastic in packaging, we forecast recycled plastic demand and collection/processing separately and then compared the results, in all cases looking for a supply and demand balance.
Demand for recycled plastic resins in packaging is forecast to grow over 9% annually through 2025. Despite this rapid expansion, the use of recycled plastic in packaging will be restrained by supply side issues that limit the amount of recycled plastic available. Gains will be fueled by:
- increasing demand for products made with recycled content – including a diversifying range of products outside of bottles – as manufacturers strive to meet ambitious goals for recycled content and consumers focus more on sustainability issues
- improving value to using recycled plastic instead of virgin resins, as improvements in collection, material sorting, and recycling process allow the industry to lower production costs for recycled plastics
- rising capacity for the production of recycled plastic, including captive production among packaging producers, which will ensure better availability of recycled plastics and more stable pricing
These trends and more are in the new Recycled Plastics in Packaging study from The Freedonia Group.