Global plastic pollution reducible by changing the type of labelling

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INSIGHT by Planet Tracker

Latest report from financial think-tank urges consumer companies to reconsider the type of labelling they use to boost recycling rates although Planet Tracker recognises that recycling is not a long-term solution to global plastic pollution.

Globally, recycling rates need to radically improve until plastic production rates decline. Currently less nine per cent of plastic waste is recycled and according to the latest research from financial think tank Planet Tracker, attention is too often focused on just the container when the right choice of label could be a game changer for the time being.

141 million tonnes of plastic packaging are currently produced every year, with the world’s leaders in plastic packaging consumption, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Unilever, Mars and L’Oréal, using over 7.7 million tonnes in 2021. Increased regulation on higher recycled content in packaging has led to a rapid rise in the demand for recovered material. However, the availability of recycled plastics is not currently able to meet this rising demand.

This is resulting in increasing prices for recycled material. In 2022, the recycled PET pellet in Europe sold at a 51 per cent price premium to virgin (fossil fuel) feedstock at EUR 797 (USD 868) per tonne.


In fact, UK manufacturers currently prefer to pay the Plastic Tax at GBP 200 (USD 248) per tonne as it is cheaper than using recycled content in their packaging.


In this report, Planet Tracker advocates for consumer brands to adopt a self-help approach that ensures the material of labels matches the material of the container, boosting recycling rates. In taking this approach, consumer brands could establish a closed loop recycling system that actively targets supply chain sustainability. A closed loop process is when plastic is recovered and the output is used to manufacture another product in the same product category.

Thalia Bofiliou, Senior Investment Analyst at Planet Tracker comments, “Across all sectors, global brands and retailers have made commitments to incorporate recycled content into their products. To improve the current supply of recycling products, industry needs to find solutions to reach these public commitments. If these consumer companies added a sleeve label ideally of the same material as the bottle, this would increase the supply of recycled material and therefore reduce the cost differential to the fossil fuel-based feedstock”.


All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.