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Opportunities for plastics recyclers in tough climate

Plastic reprocessors who concentrate on wider markets for their products will be less exposed to the current challenging economic climate, according to WRAP.

The charity’s latest Plastics Market Situation Report hailed “significant improvements” across the plastics industry, and said more could be done to boost the sector and market opportunities were available despite recent volatility.

The impact of the fall in the oil price since mid-2014 on recovered plastic prices is acknowledged and said “markets tend to move in cycles and the plastics recycling industry is no different”.

It noted that recyclers were inherently vulnerable in having little control over how the material is collected or spot markets selling their products.

WRAP director Marcus Gover (pictured) said: ”Plastic recyclers do not have to wait for oil prices to rise again. There are markets out there that will work that aren’t linked to oil prices.

“It’s about keeping costs low, not over-reaching and identifying an end product to sell the reprocessed materials into.”

Ton Emans, president of Plastics Recyclers Europe, recently said that the oil price’s effect on recyclate markets did not reflect the general business of plastics recyclers and affected only those exposed to plastic exports.

The report singled out recovered non-bottle rigid plastic packaging as a material whose end market caused “uncertainty for brands, manufacturers, local authorities and reprocessors alike”.

“The whole supply chain needs to consider the environmental impact of the plastic being used for pots, tubs and trays, the ability of plastic reprocessors to recycle it and the sustainability of demand.

“At the present time it is clear that used polystyrene packaging from the household waste stream is not currently recycled, and has little or no end market demand.”

Businesses that supply recycled plastic products to a wide range of end markets at low cost were most likely to be resilient in the current environment, according to the report.

Gover said: “There is still more to be done with challenging targets looming and testing market conditions. This report provides much needed clarity to some of the challenges the sector has faced recently as well as confidence on where to invest next.”

Barry Turner, director of plastics and flexible packaging group at the British Plastics Federation, said: “The estimates and actual data given…present an excellent summary of the market and progress made in extending plastic collection and recycling in the UK, together with some of the future challenges and opportunities that exist.”

  • The Plastics Recyclers Europe event, Plastics Recycling Show, due to be held in Brussels on 22-23 March, was postponed because of the airport and metro terror attacks. It had originally been postponed in November in the wake of the Paris atrocities. 



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