The recent publication of WRAP's Market Situation Report shows that there is still concern for the plastic market, despite the material pricing for recovered plastic rising over the last quarter.
The PRN (Packaging Waste Recovery Note) market is in a good position at the moment thanks to strong Q1 recycling figures and China taking a higher volume of plastic for recycling. This is good news for UK producers as it means more PRNs are available which results in the price decreasing.
Despite this, there are still concerns in the industry that the if the Chinese government's "Operation Green Fence" mark II comes into force later in the year, the demand for plastic material would dramatically reduce.
Over 50% of all waste plastic from the UK is exported overseas to be recycled into new packaging or goods. Two-thirds of this is exported to China which highlights the level of reliance the UK's recycling has on the Chinese market. The important role that foreign markets play in plastics recycling is further highlighted by figures compiled by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the NPWD (National Packaging Waste Database) and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Plan.)
Whilst the UK is making positive steps towards increasing domestic recycling and reprocessing, it can’t be argued that it makes economic sense for foreign markets to recycle waste on our behalf. As they actively want the material to recycle, the export markets are playing an important part in helping us keep plastic waste out of landfill.
An estimated 13 billion plastic bottles are disposed of each year