Europe’s manufacturers face $250m-a-year hit as rising demand drives up price
The battle to reduce Europe’s plastic waste could become a quarter of a billion dollars more expensive every year as the cost of recycled plastic soars.
In recent months, the price of recycled plastic flakes, used to make goods from soft drink bottles to glitter, has become more expensive than virgin plastic for the first time.
For years the cost of making plastic products from recycled flakes was cheaper than relying on virgin plastics made using fossil fuels, meaning the sustainable option was an economic option too.
But according to experts it is now cheaper for major manufacturers to use new plastic.
A report from S&P Global Platts, a commodity market specialist, revealed that recycled plastic now costs an extra $72 (£57) a tonne compared with newly made plastic.
According to the analysts this trend is driven in part by the growing demand to include recycled plastics in new products. Meanwhile, new plastic is becoming cheaper to make due to a flood of petrochemicals production from the US driven by the shale gas boom.
They have warned that this could cost sustainable manufacturers across Europe an extra $250m a year.
Although many larger manufacturers would struggle to switch their machinery back to virgin plastics, smaller manufacturers may be forced to turn their backs on recycled plastic to keep costs down.
In a blow to the war on plastic this could mean the makers of clear plastic bottles and fruit punnets stoke demand for new fossil-fuel based plastic rather than reusing old recycled bottles.
Makers of plastic packaging are under pressure to use more recycled plastic to reduce the scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans.