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  • Published In : Feb 2024
  • Code : CMI6647
  • Pages :165
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Bulk Chemicals

Global microplastic recycling Market size is expected to reach US$ 439 Million by 2031, from US$ 276.6 Million in 2024, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% during the forecast period. Microplastics are plastic particles or fibers less than 5mm in size. They enter the environment from a variety of sources such as cosmetics, synthetic textiles, and plastic degradation. Due to their small size, microplastics pose unique challenges for collection and recycling.

There are two main types of microplastic recycling products available. The first are filtration systems which are used to capture microplastics from water sources like wastewater effluent and runoff. These systems typically use screens or filters with very small pore sizes to catch plastic debris. An advantage is that these can filter large volumes of water continuously. A disadvantage is that these require regular cleaning and filter changes to maintain efficiency. The second type is digester systems that use biological or chemical processes to break down microplastic waste into its base chemical components. These systems digest solid plastic waste rather than filters, so that these can process plastic from non-liquid sources. However, these are more complex with higher operational costs than simple filtration. Both system types aim to prevent microplastics from entering the environment, but filtration  has wider application for established sources like wastewater.

Microplastic Recycling Market Regional Insights:

  • North America- It is expected to be the second-largest market for microplastic recycling market till 2024. U.S. has a large and well-developed recycling industry infrastructure with progressive policies and investments that aim to divert waste from landfills.
  • Europe- Europe has established itself as the dominant region in the microplastic recycling market, accounting for over 44.5% share in 2024.
  • Asia Pacific- Asia Pacific has emerged as the fastest growing regional market for microplastic recycling. China, Japan, and India have rapidly expanding manufacturing sectors that generate huge amounts of plastic waste.

Figure 1. Global Microplastic Recycling Market Share (%), By Region, 2024


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Analyst Viewpoint:

Global microplastic recycling market is expected  to grow steadily over the next decade driven by rising environmental concerns and regulations against plastic pollution. Microplastics, mainly from cosmetics, clothing, and industrial pellets, are increasingly being found in the environment and food chain. This poses risk to human health as well as ecosystems. Strict laws banning microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics in North America and Europe since 2018 indicate the seriousness of the issue. Similar regulations controlling microplastic pollution from other sources are expected to be introduced worldwide. This will create significant opportunities for recycling technologies capable of capturing microplastics from wastewater and sorting them from other waste streams.

However, high costs that are associated with collecting, segregating, and processing tiny plastic particles smaller than 5mm remains a challenge for recycling firms. Further, lack of mature technologies that can handle microplastics of various shapes, sizes, and polymer types at scale will slow capacity expansion. The market may also face public resistance around the perceived effectiveness of microplastic recycling. Asia Pacific dominates microplastic recycling due to high volumes of plastic waste but many North American and European countries are heavily investing in startups with advanced recycling solutions. Government-industry collaborations and innovations in detection, extraction, and waste-to-product conversion are likely to drive faster growth.

Microplastic Recycling Market Drivers:  

  • Growing awareness about environmental impact of plastic pollution: With increasing incidents of plastic litter and plastic particles entering water bodies and becoming part of the wildlife, there has been higher awareness among governments and public about the environmental threats of plastic pollution. Numerous documentaries and articles in media platforms have highlighted how microplastics less than 5 mm in size enter the ecosystem and food chains. Birds, fish, and other marine animals often ingest small plastic pieces mistakenly consuming as food, which leads to difficulties in their digestion and malnutrition. Beaches across the world are also getting saturated with plastic litter. This plastic litter breaks down into microplastics over time due to effect of weathering such as heat and sunlight. The environmentalists and activists have constantly raised voice against single-use plastics and also advocated for solutions towards plastic waste management. Many environmental organizations monitor and publish reports on plastic pollution levels in rivers and oceans. Their efforts have helped bring plastic pollution in global discussions including at United Nations forums. More people voluntarily participate in beach cleanups and awareness drives related to reduce plastic usage. Governments are also feeling the pressure to address plastic pollution and move towards circular economy models which promote waste minimization and recycling. This growing acknowledgment of significant impact of plastics on environment has boosted the interest of stakeholders in alternatives like reusable and decomposable alternatives as well as recycling of existing plastic waste. The micro plastics recycling sector thus stands to benefit from higher support for researcher and development (R&D) in new recycling technologies and scaling up of recycling facilities to process huge amounts of plastic litter. For instance, a 2021 study by Oceans Asia observed an increase of 8% in micro plastic pollution along shorelines of the South China Sea compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Opportunities from banned and phased-out single-use plastic products: Many national and local governments across the world have imposed bans on select single-use plastic items like shopping bags, straws, cups, cutlery and styro foam containers due to their negative environmental footprint. Moreover, regulations are being drafted in few economies to phase out or impose taxes on commonly used plastics like Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles and packaging films which have high recycling potential. Such bans and phase-outs aim to discourage wastage of plastics and promote alternatives. While these measures are facing opposition from plastic manufacturing lobby, they do open up new opportunities for innovators in waste management and recycling sector. There is a definite gap in processing huge volumes of discarded single-use plastic products that would be left behind once the bans take effect.  Also, with prohibition, the available resources of plastics like PET would reduce but the demand of recycled plastic raw material from industries would still exist. This imbalance in supply-demand dynamics encourages investments in plastics recycling infrastructure and operations. Advanced sorting and sorting of tiny plastic particles below 5mm requires specialized machinery and processes. Recyclers can specifically focus on developing solutions for recycling Microplastics are extracted from waste streams of banned products and convert them into recycled plastic pellets or flakes. Some governments also extend subsidies or tax reliefs for businesses, by aiding the transition to non-plastic alternatives through systematic waste management and recycling of used plastics. The opportunities galore for microplastic recycling sector to capitalize on the short-term disruption and long-term policy pushes resulting from single-use plastic bans. For Instances, According to the United Nations Environment Programme,2022,  around 11 million metric tons of plastic enters oceans annually, with microplastics comprising over 80% of marine debris.

Microplastic Recycling Market Opportunities:

  • Growth in research & development (RD) activities:  Growth in research and development is expected to create significant opportunities in the microplastic recycling market. As awareness grows around the ubiquity and dangers of microplastics, governments and organizations are ramping up efforts to tackle this complex issue. Major sources of microplastics include synthetic textiles, tires, and plastic production, so innovative ways are needed to intercept microscopic plastic debris before it enters the environment. Increased R&D funding can help to accelerate the development of new filtration technologies, waste sorting techniques, and chemical recycling processes capable of removing microplastics from mixed waste streams on an industrial scale. For instance, According to United Nations report published in 2021, over $150 million has been committed by governments of Germany, UK and France between 2020-2022 to support R&D in advanced plastic waste management technologies including microplastic filtration and sortation methods.
  • Partnerships with key industries to develop viable business models: Partnerships with key industries could unlock viable business models in the microplastics recycling market. Plastic production has surged globally, and without interventions total plastic wastes will nearly triple by 2060. However, effective recycling requires investment in infrastructure and R&D. Collaborating with large corporations can help tackle these challenges. One area of opportunity lies in partnering with companies in sectors that unintentionally generate microplastics, such as textiles, roads, and personal care products. By working closely with these industries, innovative methods can be developed to prevent microplastic pollution at source. For instances, in 2020, the United Nations Environment Program partnered with major energy companies to design chemical recycling technologies that convert mixed plastic waste back into raw materials. Such symbiotic partnerships are vital to make plastics recycling economically viable at scale.

Global Microplastic Recycling Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 276.6 Mn
Historical Data for: 2019 to 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 – 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 6.8% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 439 Mn
Geographies covered:
  • North America: U.S. and Canada
  • Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America
  • Europe: Germany, U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific: China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, ASEAN, and Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East:  GCC Countries, Israel,  and Rest of Middle East
  • Africa:  South Africa, North Africa, and Central Africa 
Segments covered:
  • By Product: Primary, Secondary
  • By End Use Industry: Packaging, Agriculture, Consumer goods, Textile, Automotive & Transportation, Building & Construction, Others
Companies covered:

Polygonesystems, PlanetCare, ECOFARIO, Ocean Diagnostics, Oceanworks, Matter, Carbios, Purecycle technologies, Ioniqa, and Calyxia. 

Growth Drivers:
  • Growing awareness about environmental impact of plastic pollution 
  • Opportunities from banned and phased-out single-use plastic products
Restraints & Challenges:
  • Collection and transportation challenges
  • Difficulty in effective sorting of microplastics

Microplastic Recycling Market Trends:

  • Advancements in filtration and sorting technologies:  Advancements in filtration and sorting technologies are playing a crucial role in driving growth in the micro plastic recycling market. New innovations are making it possible to more effectively separate and extract micro plastics from waste streams. This allows for a higher rate of recycling and diversion of Microplastics from landfills and the environment. Recent technologies like infrared and near-infrared sorting allow for automated identification and separation of different polymer types during the recycling process. Infrared spectroscopy can identify microscopic plastic particles as small as 10 microns based on their molecular signature. This level of precision sorting ensures only the target plastic resin streams that are captured for recycling, improving purity, and lifting financial viability. For instances, in 2021, according to a  study by the  Plastic Energy, sorting facilities in Europe that use near- and infrared spectroscopy have raised collection rates of micro plastics and other hard-to-recycle plastic kinds from about 30% to over 90%. 
  • Adoption of chemical and feedstock recycling methods: Adoption of chemical and feedstock recycling methods are having a significant impact on the micro plastic recycling market. Chemical recycling utilizes processes like pyrolysis and gasification to break down plastics into their base chemical components like oils and gases. These can then be utilized by the petroleum industry as raw feedstock materials to manufacture new plastics and other petrochemical products. This helps address the issue of recyclability of certain plastic types and mixed plastics that are  not recycled through traditional mechanical recycling processes. As chemical recycling provides a viable solution to manage hard-to-recycle plastic waste streams, it is gaining more acceptance from both waste management companies and product manufacturers. For instances, the Recycling Partnership, a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to plastic recycling, conducted trials across the U.S. in 2020–2021, and the results showed that feedstock recycling could be used to turn up to 80% of the plastic collected through curbside programs into new plastic pellets and beads.

Micro plastic Recycling Market Restraints: 

  • Collection and transportation challenges:  Collection and transportation of micro plastics is one of the major challenges restraining the growth of micro plastic recycling market. Microplastics are plastic pieces or fibers that are less than 5 mm in size and they enter the environment from a variety of sources like synthetic textiles, personal care products containing plastic micro beads, and many household items. Due to their extremely small size, traditional plastic collection and sorting methods that are commonly used in material recovery facilities are unable to capture micro plastics effectively.
  • Counterbalance- Disruptions or inefficiencies in the collection, sorting, and processing stages of the recycling supply chain can hinder the ability of the market to handle micro plastics effectively.
  • Difficulty in effective sorting of micro plastics:  The effective and efficient sorting of micro plastics is posing a major challenge for the growth of micro plastic recycling market. Microplastics are plastic particles that are less than 5 mm in size and they mainly come from various sources such as tire wear debris, textile laundry waste, industrial pellets and much more. Due to their extremely small size, it becomes really difficult to separate them from other waste during the sorting process. Most traditional recycling facilities are not equipped to handle such tiny plastic particles and do not have appropriate filtration and separation technology in place. The size of micro plastics can be as small as a few microns which is smaller than sand particles. This makes it almost impossible to visually identify and remove them from mixed waste streams by using conventional waste sorting methods.

Figure 2. Global Microplastic Recycling Market, By End Use Industry


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Recent Development:

  • In February 2023, The REMEDIES project, funded by the European Union (EU) and valued at around US$ 8.8 million, set an ambitious goal of collecting over 400 tons of This project aims to address the issue of microplastic pollution in various mediterranean regions by developing advanced systems for recycling, collecting, monitoring, and converting the extracted waste into new products. The primary objective of The REMEDIES project is to establish a sustainable model that effectively mitigates the impact of microplastics. It is a veteran owned small business that focuses on supporting critical infrastructure with specific tools and processes. The services of the company include project management, process improvement, and technology implementation
  • In January 2022, Plastipak Holdings, Inc., a global leader in the design, manufacture, and recycling of plastic containers, completed a major investment to expand its PET recycling capacity at its manufacturing site in Bascharage, Luxembourg. The expansion is set to increase the annual production capacity by 136%. Plastipak Holdings, Inc. is a global leader in the packaging and recycling industries. The company designs and manufactures plastic containers for beverages and other products.  
  • In September 2022, Novolex, a packaging company that manufactures products with paper, plastic, and renewable materials for food packaging, delivery and carry-out, food processing, and industrial markets, unveiled a substantial investment of US$10 million at its North Vernon facility located in the U.S. This investment aims to enhance the facility recycling capacity specifically for plastic bags and other polyethylene (PE) film materials. The new facility is designed to process a staggering 40 million pounds of feedstock annually.

Top Companies in the Microplastic Recycling Market:

  • Polygonesystems
  • PlanetCare
  • Ocean Diagnostics
  • Oceanworks
  • Matter
  • Carbios
  • Purecycle technologies
  • Ioniqa
  • Calyxia

Definition: Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than five millimeters long, resulting from the breakdown of larger plastics and the use of products like synthetic clothing and plastic bags. These can be harmful to the environment and animal health. Microplastic recycling involves processes such as shredding, melting, and molding the plastic into new products. Increasing education and recycling efforts are proposed solutions for microplastic pollution. By recycling plastics, a cycle of plastic use and reuse can be created to decrease waste output and the production of new plastic materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

Collection and transportation challenges and difficulty in effective sorting of microplastics are the key factors hampering the growth of the global microplastic recycling market.

Growing awareness about environmental impact of plastic pollution and opportunities from banned and phased-out single-use plastic products are the major factors driving the global microplastic recycling market growth.

The packaging segment is the leading end user industry segment in the global microplastic recycling market.

The major players operating in the global microplastic recycling market are Polygonesystems, PlanetCare, ECOFARIO, Ocean Diagnostics, Oceanworks, Matter, Carbios, Purecycle technologies, Ioniqa, and Calyxia.

Europe leads the global microplastic recycling market.

The CAGR of the global microplastic recycling market is 6.8%.

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