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Plastics - 15 February

Prices for recovered plastics have remained fairly stable during February, with only a difference noted in the value of clear PET.

This material has fallen by £10-£20 per/tonne, with prices ranging between £230-£280 per tonne.

Natural HDPE has remained stable at around £150 per tonne. Mixed bottles have not moved either, remaining at £160 per tonne for high quality and £85 per tonne for the lower quality material.

The Chinese New Year celebrations have resulted in a backlog of material because many reprocessors have been unable to ship their plastic during the holiday. This has had a knock-on effect on the number of reprocessors bidding for material.

The provisional 2012 plastic packaging recycling data from the Environment Agency shows a strong fourth quarter of the year, with 176 thousand tonnes (kt) being recycled in comparison with 175kt in Q3, 146kt in Q2 and 147kt in Q1.

The evidence seems to show all producers and schemes fulfilling their recycling obligations for last year. The obligated tonnage for 2012 was 609kt; with 22kt being carried forward into 2012 this produced a net requirement for 2012 of 587kt.

With the data showing that 644kt of plastic packaging was recycled, this meant the target was exceeded by 35kt, producing an overall 57kt tonnes surplus from 2012, leaving 41kt to be carried forward into 2013.

PRN prices for January 2013 ranged from £12-£15. Due to the 41kt surplus tonnage being carried over and counting towards the 2013 target, it can be expected that PRN prices could fall in Q1 2013. Recoup believes the 2013 target looks achievable, but this must be said with caution and it is important not to become complacent as there is still a long way to go.

Plastics collections

One key way of driving up the collection rates of plastics is through plastics packaging collections from households. But it is important to not sacrifice quality for quantity.

By educating households as to what plastics can and cannot be recycled, collection rates could be improved within the UK, helping us to reach the plastic packaging targets by 2017.

Recoup believes that recycling communications to householders need to be clear, easy to understand and consistent. It should provide guidance on which plastics to recycle, why there are limitations, and evidence of how people’s actions can have a positive impact.

This is a challenge given that there are so many stakeholders, a range of approaches to collecting and recycling plastics, and pressures to improve green credentials. Taking a step back from the supply chain, there needs to be some general boundaries and approaches that will allow UK plastics recycling to develop sustainably.

All this suggests there needs to be a greater emphasis and concerted effort on communications and behaviour change to meet the UK’s challenging 2013-17 plastic recycling targets.

Recoup plans to develop a communications and guidance best practice guide in 2013. If you would like to discuss this, or share your own experiences and advice, Recoup would be more than happy to hear from you.

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