Veolia Group proves recycling PET plastics can be profitable

French company Veolia Group is demonstrating that companies can introduce recycled petroleum-based plastics (PET) plastics into their production chain and still be successful during a conference organised as part of the Green Week.

Although the costs of recycling packaging are more expensive than producing plastic from petroleum, manufacturing the material from scratch has negative consequences on the environment and peoples’ health.

The ideal solution – although costly – would be for companies to introduce recycled PET into a product’s production chain. In 2017, for instance, of the 408 billion PET bottles sold, less than 50% were recycled.

At a conference organised by the European Commission as part of the Green Week on Thursday (3 June), Veolia Group’s Spain-based subsidiary TorrePET said it has developed state-of-the-art recycling tech to separate PET from recovered bottles to produce healthier, high-quality recycled plastic.

To make its business model viable, it has made an agreement with the industry selling the bottles on sales prices based solely on the company’s actual costs and not on the costs of raw material.

“In a way, we have materialised the environmental value of recycled plastic. We can free ourselves from the economics of fossil fuels,” said Sven Saura, Deputy Director of Recycling at Veolia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in falling oil prices, the company did not stop using recycled plastic.

“Since 2019, the price of recycled plastic has been stable. This is very good news. If the price of PET recycled plastic fluctuated with the price of oil, this business model would not be viable for our company,” the deputy director added.