Oil price slump hits plastic recycling
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Plastic recycling in Europe is being hampered by the low oil price, according to industry and experts.
European recyclers are “squeezed between the price of waste, which did not decrease, and the price of recyclates which had to follow the drop of virgin plastics prices”, said Antonino Furfari of industry association EUPR.
But progress towards EU recycling targets for 2020 should not be affected, as the problem is a short-term one, Mr Furfari predicted.
Many small plastic recycling firms are likely to go out of business but a likely recovery of the oil price to $100 a barrel in the next two or two and a half years means the industry as a whole is not in long-term trouble, agreed analyst Martin Wiesweg of IHS.
Some low value applications of recycled plastic will be halted, but plastic recycling under extended producer responsibility schemes is less likely to be affected, he added.
The weak euro is exacerbating the problem by enabling foreign traders to pay higher prices for plastics waste, Mr Furfari said.
“This is contributing to keeping prices of waste high and create an important leakage of material to Far East,” he said.
On Wednesday, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) called on downstream users of plastic to bear in mind the requirements of the UK’s packaging waste producer responsibility law when choosing between recycled and new plastic.
The UK has set a 47% target for plastic recycling by business for 2015, rising to 57% by 2017 as part of its efforts to meet recycling targets under the 2008 EU Waste Framework Directive.
The viability of recycling businesses is under threat and this is in turn putting the supply chain’s record on recycling and many firms’ “sustainability message” at risk, BPF said.
Source: ENDS Europe