Plastics recyclers facing turbulent market

Posted on 7th March, 2018

Plastic recyclers appear to be remaining cautiously optimistic about export markets in the face of market challenges around material quality and the China export restrictions.

However, some have questioned the long-term viability of the emerging export markets which are now taking some material which would have gone to China.

There have also been widespread calls for the quality of materials to be increased from retailers also from council kerbside collections where material is collected commingled, to counter the problem of finding end markets for lower quality plastics.  However, the Chinese restrictions have been branded “good news” by some in the industry, particularly domestic sorters as there is now a “larger pool to choose from”. Others have said it is too early to tell what the long-term input will be. “Anyone who says they do know at this stage what will happen, is lying”, said one insider.

There are also concerns that the recipient markets of used plastic from Europe will also crackdown on quality. However, others say this would be a good thing and there will be a general move away from export to increased domestic recycling.