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Suppliers face challenges as cost of recycled plastic is on the rise

While the UK government plans to tax companies which don’t use at least 30% recycled plastic in their products, costs have skyrocketed.

The race to reduce plastic waste could become a quarter of a billion dollars more expensive every year as the cost of recycled plastic increases, the Guardian has reported.

Over the past few months, the price of recycled plastic flakes has become more expensive than virgin plastic for the first time. In the past, making plastic products from recycled flakes was more cost-effective than virgin plastics made using fossil fuels. Now companies face a difficult decision; how can they appeal to an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer and foot the bill for recycled plastic?

A report from S&P Global Platts, a commodity market specialist, has said recycled plastic now costs an extra £57 a tonne compared with newly-made plastic.

Lloyd Harvey, Sales Executive at Cambrian Packaging, said: “The blow moulders we work with are already advising caution when quoting on new projects where rHDPE is specified, as supply of the popular lighter grades of rHDPE is tightening.

“Supply of the darker grades is still relatively plentiful, so where there is an ideal of using rHDPE, packaging specifiers may have to consider increased flexibility on the specification of the material.”

He added: “As the national policy, until recently, has been to export waste, the UK domestic recycling capacity is still seriously inadequate and it is very difficult to believe that the aim of all packaging containing 30% recycled material by 2022 is realistic.”

Experts say the increased cost of recycled plastic is down to the growing demand in the market and have warned that it could cost more environmentally sustainable manufacturers across Europe an extra $250m a year.

Until the UK acts on its plans to tax companies, it may be cheaper for businesses to invest in new plastic packaging.

Cambrian listens with interest to UK plans to introduce new incentives to tackle the plastic problem, such as creating new recycling plants and improving facilities at local council level. It is not plastic that is to blame, but the wider approach to recycling which needs to change.

You can find out more about our range of rHDPE packaging here. Ask us about our supply of darker grade rHDPE.