Recycling Round-Up

Of late, plastics recycling has rightly taken centre stage in the attention of the media. But, while the issue of waste plastic has risen to the top of the environmental agenda, it’s far from the only specialist form of recycling to attract industry interest. So I took a look to see what other forms of recycling are rising in prominence, and where. There’s a range of investment in other interesting areas of recycling.

AcuComm currently has 450 active recycling projects which deal with some form of specialised municipal waste. Plastics are in the lead, with 157 projects. These are valued at US$3,076 million, or just under US$20 million each on average.


In second place is metal recycling. AcuComm has 125 of these, valued at US$5,280 million. This makes them larger on average than plastics facilities, at US$42 million apiece. Metal recycling facilities cover a range of activities, from basic automobile recyclers to specialist facilities dealing with recovery of metals and even specific metal types from general waste.

The largest number are in the Americas, principally the USA, where we have 53 projects worth US$1,886 million, or US$36 million on average. There are 43 projects in Europe; Germany is the leading individual country with 12 (US$714 million or US$60 million each), followed by the UK with seven (US$198 million or US$28 million each). There are relatively few projects in Africa, Asia or the Middle East, but some important individual investments occur all over the world. For example, the most recent is a lead recycling facility which opened in Tanzania in April 2019.

Also of interest is the related field of e-waste recycling. The AcuComm database contains 65 active e-waste projects in 26 countries. These are worth US$1,069 million in total, or US$16 million on average. As for metals, the largest number are in the USA at 22, followed by the UK with six and the UAE with three. The newest is in Belgium, where a proposed plant for the development of a plant for recycling technical polymers from e-waste received public funding in May 2019.

Next is rubber. AcuComm lists 44 rubber recycling plants, worth a total of US$1,050 million or US$24 million each. Again, most are in the Americas or Europe. These deal almost exclusively with the recycling of used automobile tyres. The most recent is a proposed facility in Queensland, Australia, which will have capacity to process 700,000 car and truck tyres a year.

AcuComm currently lists 29 paper recycling projects, worth US$1,599 million in total. Some of these are relatively large, making for an average of US$55 million. Again, the USA predominates with ten projects, followed by the UK with five. The most recent new project is a paper recycling system in Oslo, Norway, due to open in 2019.

Finally, glass recycling accounts for 30 projects, worth US$452 million. This is equal to a relatively low US$15 million on average; this is largely attributable to several projects in our database which comprise small upgrades to existing facilities. Around half of glass recycling projects are in the USA or the UK.