From January 1, 2021, the EU will impose a plastic tax of 800 euros / ton on non recyclable plastic packaging. The tax is just an example of policies enacted by governments around the world to solve the problem of plastic pollution.
A series of new legislation and voluntary commitments from major plastic users and producers aim to rid the world of plastic waste and promote the increasing demand for recycled plastics.
It is predicted that by 2030, mechanical recycled plastics will replace more than 1.7 million tons of primary polymer raw materials, compared with 688000 tons in 2020. For ambitious waste reduction plans to succeed, recycled plastics need to be developed into an efficient global commodity market. There are signs that this trend has gradually taken shape.
The value of recycled plastics is being released. It is this value that promotes the commercialization of the plastic waste market and may eventually help solve the problem of plastic waste pollution. Simply put, when a substance has such high value and can be exchanged in an effective market, it makes no sense to discard it into the natural environment.
Many different factors are promoting the commercialization of recycled plastics market. Some of these reasons, such as the increase in the number of participants active in the market, stem from legislation.
Governments, starting from Europe, but recently in the United States and Asia as a whole, have asked participants in some industries, mainly those engaged in plastic packaging, to reduce their dependence on primary plastics and increase the use of recycled materials. In some cases, this is supported by taxes. The UK will charge £ 200 / ton for plastic packaging without 30% recycled ingredients by April 2022.
The effect of these policies has increased the number of market participants, mainly buyers or "users" of plastic packaging, thus increasing competition and requiring more supply to expand the market. There are already signs that the supply in the local market is insufficient to meet local demand, because the recovery rate will never reach 100%. This makes the company look further afield.
In Europe, demand exceeds the potential of local and regional markets, leading participants to look to Southeast Asia for more supply, making the region a growing global market.
Standardization is not a problem in the primary plastic market. Primary polymer buyers can be confident that plastics purchased from one supplier are the same as, or at least compatible with, plastics purchased from another supplier. Technical characteristics, volume and color are consistent. Globally, this allows the arbitrage economy to help balance global supply and demand. This is why polymer price trends are similar in different regions. This is why the global view of these markets is crucial.
The product standardization of recycled plastics is more difficult. After all, they come from waste. Different product specifications and pollution levels, as well as concerns about traceability in different regions or even in the same region, are all factors that hinder arbitrage. Even in the same country, the waste collection system will be very different, producing different components of waste to be recycled and different quality recyclable materials. Buyers want to ensure product quality, but they also want to ensure that their materials (especially those collected in developing countries) are legally purchased.
At present, some large companies from waste management industry to FMCG industry are investing in standardization on a large scale.
The most mature recycled plastics markets are in Europe. The key pollutants in r-PET transparent sheets (such as PVC, acetaldehyde and benzene) will affect the appearance and performance of beverage bottles and have an impact on health. Now its content is decreasing and can be ignored in some cases. Production is also becoming more and more consistent, which means that buyers can ensure that the quality of each batch of products is the same.
Suez, Veolia, Coca Cola and other companies have invested in building new factories in Southeast Asia to produce r-PET transparent sheets with low PVC content. Recycled PET in the United States is also becoming more unified, and the content of pollutants is also reduced. California is promoting this work. Starting from 2022, it will impose a minimum recycled plastic content of 15% in PET bottles. The r-PET transparent sheet Market in California is dominated by materials with PVC pollutant content up to 100 ppm, which reflects that the U.S. r-PET industry is oriented to low-end markets, such as fiber and textile markets. However, more and more materials with PVC content no higher than 10 ppm enter the market, making them closer to the standards of the whole northwest Europe and meeting the growing demand for high-quality materials.
Globalization, these developments in Southeast Asia and the United States have made materials produced in different regions more similar, which means that market participants have more choices - whether buyers or sellers, and wherever they are.
The recycled PET market in Europe and the United States saw a price rise at the beginning of this year, partly due to a shortage of containers of imported materials from Asia. These increases exceeded those in Southeast Asia, where participants worked hard to ship materials to Europe and the west coast of the United States.
Plastic pollution is a global problem, which needs global response measures, and the development of a large and mobile recycled plastic market can play an important role in this regard. Understanding this value is the key to promoting the development of plastic industry.
Contact Person: Mr. Fan