In this report, we explore the current state of PET-based bottle recycling in Europe, as well as its potential for improvement, alongside analysis of common claims made to consumers on bottle labels relating to recycling.

We argue that such claims can give an impression of ‘plastic bottle circularity’ that does not reflect reality.

While it is clear that rates of plastic recycling for PET bottle bodies are improving in Europe and are likely to further improve in future years, it is also clear that a fully circular system for PET-based bottles does not exist at present and is not feasible.

The idea of used bottles simply becoming new bottles over and over again may be appealing to companies and consumers alike, but it does not reflect the outcomes for PET-based bottles in Europe.

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