Rising polymer costs put pressure on bin market

EXCLUSIVE: A “plastic shortage” and the rising costs of polymer is putting some pressure on the wheeled bin market, manufacturers have said.

Plastic shortage
There has been a national plastic shortage, which has put pressures on the wheeled bin market (Picture: Shutterstock)

According to a number of bin and container manufacturers, the plastic shortage can be put to a variety of reasons stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Factors include low oil prices during lockdowns, and an increase in demand for other plastic products, such as PPE, and for single-use packaging.

The manufacturers have also confirmed that the material shortage has manifested itself by causing disruptions for councils receiving deliveries of bins and containers for distributing to households.

While the actual plastic shortage appears to be easing, current rising costs of the material are also posing a challenge.

One such local authority recently impacted by difficulties in the bin market is Denbighshire county council in Wales which recently reported a shortage of blue recycling bins over the summer months.

As an alternative, some residents across the county have been provided with sacks for dry mixed recycling whilst the delays are dealt with.

A council spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “Following some delays during the summer months due to driver shortages nationally and plastic supply chain issues, we are now in the process of delivering replacement bins. We are expecting to have delivered outstanding orders by the end of this month.”


This is unprecedented and is now pushing prices to levels not seen in the last 5 years – Neil Kavanagh, UK commercial director, Contenur 

Wheeled bin manufacturer Contenur, which has opened a UK production plant in Knowsley, Merseyside told letsrecycle.com that the wheeled bin market is “no exception” to the global supply chain “crisis”.

UK commercial director, Neil Kavanagh explained that rising prices of polymer has “more than doubled” during the pandemic and is now “exacerbated” by the movement and distribution of raw produce around the world.

He explained: “We have always mitigated fluctuations in price thanks to our contingency planning strategies and forward buying of material to support demand, but this is unprecedented and is now pushing prices to levels not seen in the last 5 years. This upward pressure – with seemingly no or little bounce back, will no doubt put pressure on already stretched local authority budgets.”

Increased demand

A spokesperson from Rotherham-based manufacturer IPL, also noted the pressures around rising costs, which they said has become “very difficult” for some manufacturers when shipping is also concerned.

In IPL’s case, all sites are UK-based which means pressures around shipping aren’t as significant, and it also operates an in-house plastics plant.

The spokesperson added that these steps mean IPL haven’t had any delays for local authority clients.

She explained: “There has been a national shortage of polymer, both virgin and plastic, brewing for a number of months now. This has been due to a number of things including catching up from downtime during the pandemic, increased demand and difficulties in sourcing material.
“For those importing material, parts, or the finished product, the issues at ports has been a massive issue, and I think the main reason for delays to councils. Polymer is out there but it costs more. When you add shipping too it’s very difficult.”

Manufacturers also outlined steps they are taking to try and mitigate the issue, noting that material is often ordered 6 months ahead of time.

Road to recovery

London-based manufacturer British Bins however, told letsrecycle.com that it hopes the issue is now “receding”, although noted a particular struggle a few months ago.

Plastic shortage
It is thought that the pandemic has caused the shortage due to halts in oil production during lockdowns (Picture: Shutterstock)

Peter Bond, director at British Bins explained: “There is plastic around and there is availability now. We hope prices start coming back down, and we think they are beginning to. But of course different manufacturers are in different spaces.

“We carry a large stock so that has certainly helped us during these times. Now, we are more or less keeping stock but it was very difficult 2 or 3 months ago, as the moulders just couldn’t get the material.

But of course, there are a whole load of other supply issues out there, but thankful that particular one seems to be getting better.”


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