Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics

Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses

Published on May 24, 2018


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.


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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register to the next webinar on Rethinking plastic recycling in a disposable society

When: Wednesday 23 January 2019 - 17:00 (CET Paris time) / 11:00 (EST)

The global production and use of plastics are expected to increase fourfold to 2050 and if the material is poorly managed at the end-of-life, this will potentially result in significantly increased impacts on the environment, especially through marine plastic litter.

Green talks live plastics

How can this scenario be avoided, why are current recycling rates for plastics so low and what can be done to improve them?

Join Peter Börkey of the OECD Environment Directorate to learn more about this pressing issue and the policy responses that are required to address it.

The presentation will be based on the OECD report Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses.

Duration: 1 hour (presentation of 20-30 minutes followed by Q&A).

Where: the convenience of your computer

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speech and PRESS RELEASE

09/06/2018 - Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General at the Charlevoix G7 Leaders’ Summit: G7 and Outreach Leaders Working Session. Read the full speech.

24/05/2018 - Plastic recycling is failing to reach its full potential as low recovery rates of plastic waste, poor quality of recycled plastic and a lack of price incentives are holding back secondary plastic markets, according to a new OECD report. Given rising public concern over plastic pollution, governments should act urgently to encourage more and better recycling, it says. Read the full press release.





Download the Policy Highlights (PDF)



Infographic Plastic product design and life cycle stage
Click to enlarge



THE re-circle PROject

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The OECD RE-CIRCLE project provides policy guidance on resource efficiency and the transition to a circular economy and aims to identify and quantify the impact of policies to guide a range of stakeholders in OECD member countries and emerging market economies through quantitative and qualitative analysis.

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