9 July 2020 by Joshua Doherty

Drop in demand hitting specialist plastic recyclers

Recyclers of plastic from end of life vehicles (ELVs) and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) across Europe have been “severely impacted” by the coronavirus outbreak, according to two recycling bodies.  

The warning comes from the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) and the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA), which say they represent the “vast majority” of recyclers in this sector, including those in the UK. 

Recyclers of plastic from ELVs are being impacted by a drop in demand and a fall in oil prices, the statement says

A joint statement from the two groups say that specialist plastic recyclers in this sector have “pioneered the recycling of complex thermoplastics” used in cars or electrical and electronic appliances, often with “no or little support to stimulate end-markets”. 

They have made a number of demands in their statement. These include setting minimum targets for the inclusion of recycled plastic in the ELV and WEEE Directives, to help boost demand.  

Oil prices 

Along with a sharp drop in demand,  plummeting virgin plastics prices have further negatively impacted a sector “where long-term investments in high-tech processes are instrumental to recycle complex plastics from automotive and electronics”. 

The statement went on to say that post consumer recycled plastics, be they technical or from packaging, “cannot be indexed on oil prices since their cost structure is entirely different”. 

The group has urged the European Commission to set minimum recycled content regulations in the WEEE and ELV Directives

The two groups warned that there is a genuine risk, if no urgent measures are taken, of witnessing a “reduction of Europe’s technical plastics recycling capacity at a time where scaling up is the most needed to meet the EU’s sustainable agenda”. 

Calls 

In the statement, a number of calls to the European Union were made to help the sector, including:

  • The inclusion, whenever relevant, of recycled content targets in sectorial legislation, such as the ELV or WEEE Directives 
  • Support voluntary commitments with measurable results to boost cooperation along the plastics value chain supplying in the EEE and automotive sectors, in key matters such as collection & sorting 
  • Setting up incentives, which can take the form of tradable recycling certificates or tax breaks, to reward recycling and the use of recycled materials in new products alongside the entire (circular) value chain 

 

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