Plastic scrap markets are garnering significant interest throughout Europe. Prices have been challenging, although there appears to be a significant push by a host of organizations to boost the collection of various grades of plastic scrap.
Over the past several years as the European Union seeks to increase its recycling levels, greater attention has been directed toward various grades of plastic scrap. Additionally, the efforts by a number of European associations have galvanized to develop strategies to boost plastics recycling levels.
One topic that continues to play a growing role has been the call for better quality. The problems came to a head with the Green Fence policy, which caused many plastics recyclers to take additional time to clean material, and, in some cases, redirect shipments from China to other destinations.
Mixed plastics was a widely exported grade to China over the past several years. However several sources say it now is close to impossible to ship most loads of mixed plastic to mainland China, although some exporters have been moving mixed and lower grades of plastic to Hong Kong, where it is sorted and then shipped into China.
In the United Kingdom, the government, through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has established mandatory quality requirements for MRFs which be introduced in October 2014.
While a number of recyclers have applauded the move, others express concerns that the U.K. government has not backed up the regulations with other key measures.
The move toward addressing the opportunity and challenges for plastics recycling also has been addressed by the European Parliament (EP), which recently adopted a resolution addressing the need to increase the recycling of plastic scrap throughout the European Union.
The resolution recognizes that plastic scrap has been accumulating in large quantities and that various countries are recognizing a number of factors that have led or contributed to significant global damage to human health and the environment, and to increased exports of waste. These factors include poor implementation and enforcement of EU waste legislation by member states, the lack of relevant targets and price mechanisms, insufficient internal demand for recycled materials, illegal dumping, illegal exports and improper storage.
The EP has reported that full implementation of EU waste legislation could save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by ¤42 billion, and create more than 400,000 jobs by 2020.