The four largest European organisations representing the plastics packaging industry fear a lack of investment and supply chain issues may endanger the European polymer market, with implications for the recycled sector.
There is concern that polymer producers are turning to the faster growing Asian and US markets, which is stifling investment in Europe.
However, it is believed that greater integration of recyclates into plastic packaging could give the European market the edge over its global competitors.
The joint call comes from the British Plastics Federation, the Packaging and Films Association, both representing the UK; Elipso (France); and IK (Germany).
“Europe is a global leader and powerhouse of innovation, not only in plastics packaging technology but also in waste management organisation and techniques such as recycling and the incorporation of recyclate into plastics packaging products,” they said.
“The development of this expertise here in Europe can support the stronger evolution of plastics packaging markets and, indeed, the acceptance of plastics packaging around the world.”
They say the industry in Europe is facing difficulties in procuring polyethylene and polypropylene, while escalating ethylene prices are pushing up the price of a number of polymers.
Philip Law, director-general of the BPF said: “This is a severe problem across Europe, especially for Polyolefins . It threatens to undermine the role of plastics in some applications where there could be easy transfer to an alternative material.”
In addition, a lack of investment makes ageing plants more susceptible to breakdowns, disrupting the supply chain.
The trade associations say that if the industry remains underfunded while struggling with supply issues, it is “in danger of losing credibility with customers”.
Closed Loop Recycling, the largest producer of recycled HDPE for milk bottles, has been struggling in recent months with the supply chain turning to cheaper virgin plastic over recyclate.
Although historically cheaper than virgin, plastic recyclers are being squeezed by five-year lows in the price of oil and a rise in the cost of recycled bottles for processing.