Plastics recyclers in the UK are facing financial pressures following the drop in oil prices at the end of 2014 and the subsequent fall in virgin polymer prices.
They fear that it will result in more plastics businesses selecting virgin polymers over recycled material. Paul Mayhew, global sourcing manager for MBA Polymers, believes these financial challenges could be mitigated by government action. “The recycling sector is relatively new and incentives such as the use of EPEAT – a comprehensive global environmental rating system that helps purchasers identify greener computers and other electronics – by the US government, could help the UK recycling industry.”
He says the US government awards procurement contracts to computer businesses which show they have a certain percentage of recycled content. He says this move persuaded Dell to invest in Closed Loop Recycling: “It creates demand and ensures the whole recycling model is more robust.”
Mayhew also points out currently there appears to be no pressure nor incentives for government procurement contracts to include recycled content in England unlike Scotland where the requirement is standard.
Chris Collier, CK Group commercial director, also believes the fall in oil prices has had a very detrimental effect on the recycling industry. “Certain end users are going back to using prime polymers and this means it is becoming difficult to sell recycled polymers in a shrinking sales market.”
The result, he says, “is many companies who carried recycled stock are struggling and could become casualties over the coming year”.
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has also expressed its concern at the impact of reduced oil prices in the UK plastics recycling industry. It says this is threatening not only the viability of businesses but also, potentially, the recycling record of the whole supply chain.
The BPF is calling on companies in the downstream supply chain, when considering their materials selection policies, to keep to the fore the fact that high recycling targets have to be met under the Packaging Waste (Producer Responsibility) Regulations and that many individual corporate social responsibility programmes support increased recycling levels.
BPF director-general Philip Law says: “Plastics recycling is an essential component of the whole chain’s sustainability message and we should not allow our record to regress.”
Edited from source