The used plastics sector in the UK is facing considerable pressures with ongoing weak demand for poorer quality material and price pressure too on cleaner materials, such as used plastic bottles and films.
Plastics recyclers say that this is because of the plunging oil prices and depressed demand for scrap from the Far East which continue to cause concern amongst plastics recyclers, as the sector looks to recover from what was described as a ‘difficult’ year in 2015.
Companies collecting plastic scrap have historically been heavily dependent on export markets – particularly China – to take a significant proportion of the material collected from households and businesses across the UK.
Plastics recyclers have reported that market conditions ‘remain tough’ in early 2016. This became particularly acute in 2015, with the collapse of two of the UK’s largest plastics bottle recycling businesses – Closed Loop Recycling and Eco Plastics.
China is still an important export market but with a continuing focus on quality, and the development of its own internal market for scrap materials, demand remains at a lower level.
This comes at a time when oil prices have dropped to the lowest level in around 13 years, close to $28 per barrel, although there has been a rise in the last few days to $34 per barrel.