The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has expressed concern at the impact of reduced oil prices on plastic recyclers in the UK, and urged those in the supply chain to be supportive of their plight.
The BPF warns that areas of plastics recycling are becoming uncompetitive, threatening the viability of businesses and, potentially, recycling efforts across the supply chain.
Companies in the supply chain considering how they choose their materials are urged to bear in mind that recycling targets have to be met under the Packaging Waste (Producer Responsibility) Regulations, and that many individual corporate social responsibility strategies also back higher recycling levels.
BPF director-general Philip Law, left, said: “The carbon saving and resource efficiency benefits of plastic products has been enhanced by the increased levels of recycling seen today.
“Plastics recycling is an essential component of the whole chain’s sustainability message and we should not allow our record to regress.”
In December 2014, MRW’s special report on the plastic sector confirmed that recyclers were coming under increasing financial pressure following a sharp drop in the price of US crude oil to below $60 a barrel, making price competition with virgin polymers more difficult.
Prices have remained largely at that level, as a result of weaker demand and surging US production in the wake of booming shale gas exploitation.
The price of virgin plastic polymers has mirrored the downward trend, as plastic is a by-product of petroleum refining and natural gas processing, although the decline has been less sharp.
Adrian Whyle, resource efficiency senior manager at PlasticsEurope, told MRW at the time that the price of virgin polymers had dropped by around 8 or 9% during the year and was around pre-2008 levels.
- A recent victim in the sector was R3 Products of Ecclesfield, Sheffield, which ceased trading shortly after the appointment of administrators on 18 February with the loss of 19 jobs. R3 Products was shortlisted for a National Recycling Award in 2013.