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Global plastic packaging and PET bottles recycling rate 2013

This statistic displays the average recycling rate of plastic packaging and PET bottles as of 2013. During this year, an average of 14 percent of plastic packaging was recycled. The vast majority of this plastic packaging material was sent to landfills or leaked into the environment.

Recycling PET material – additional information

Polyethylene terephthalate (more commonly PET) is a plastic resin and one of the most common types of polyester materials. PET was discovered and patented in England in 1941 and is now commonly labeled with a #1 on the bottom of packaging in many countries. It is often used as raw material to create packaging for food and other consumer products. The material is commonly used due to its versatility, transparency, resealability, shatter-resistance, and its recyclability. In 2013, over half of the PET bottles globally were recycled, however, only about 14 percent of all plastics were recycled worldwide. It is possible to produce a PET package entirely from recycled PET material. However, PET is semiporous which tends to lead to the absorption of the food or beverage molecules it contained. It is also difficult to remove these residues as heating PET for sterilization would destroy it. Due to these factors, recycled PET bottles tend to be used for lower grade products. Still, PET can be disinfected through ultraviolet radiation. In the United States, the volume of recycled PET containers has steadily risen from 769 million pounds in 2000 to 1.8 billion pounds in 2015. Some 3 million tons of plastic municipal solid waste was recovered in the country.

Recycling rate of plastic packaging material and PET bottles worldwide as of 2013

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Release date

January 2016



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* 2012 values.

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Statistics on "Plastic waste in Europe"

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