High energy costs put plastic recycling ‘at risk’

Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE) has warned that high electricity prices are putting “the transition towards a circular economy” at risk.

Plastic recycling
Ecoveritas expects the production and use of plastics worldwide to increase in the years to come (picture: Shutterstock)

The trade association, which counts Chase Plastics, DS Smith and Pre Zero as its members, explained that as the energy crisis deepens on the continent, high electricity prices are having a negative impact on the operations of plastic recycling facilities.

Due to the fact that plastic recycling facilities run non-stop, energy utilities are among the three major cost factors after labour and maintenance, the association explained.

However, what used to represent roughly 15-20% of the total operational costs has soared to 70% given the 400% increase in energy prices, it added.

PRE warned that “this makes it nearly impossible for recycling companies to break even and means that without the European Commission as well as the member states’ intervention, many companies will close”.


According to PRE, the effect can already be observed in Italy, where 40% of plastic recycling operations have been suspended due to unsustainable energy costs.

Last month, Assorimap outlined that “some plants are already closed, while others have remained operational only a few days of the week, a consequence of the expensive bills, which from June to August have increased by 440%”.

Commenting on the situation, Ton Emans, president of PRE, said: “Stopping the recycling activities will have an immediate, negative impact on the plastic waste management in Europe.

“If we want to drive a circular economy in Europe, plastic recycling must be considered a key industry sector to be targeted by member states’ efforts to protect from the impact of high electricity prices.”

‘Disastrous implications’

PRE emphasised the importance of the recycling industry in navigating a pathway to a low-carbon EU economy by 2050, highlighting that plastic recycling has the lowest carbon footprint in comparison to incineration or landfill.

Additionally, the European plastic recycling capacities have seen a “massive investment” boosted by the recent EU policy and global development. However, it is expected that the fluctuations in energy prices will put these efforts to halt, resulting in “disastrous implications for the European recycling industry”.

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