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Although material prices for recovered plastic have risen over the last quarter, there is still concern following the publication of WRAP’s Market Situation Report last month.

Although material prices for recovered plastic have risen over the last quarter, there is still concern following the publication of WRAP’s Market Situation Report last month. China taking an increased amount of plastic, added to the strong Q1 recycling figures, means that the plastic PRN outlook is good for UK producers at the moment. However, there are fears in the industry that the Chinese government’s 'Operation Green Fence' mark II could come into force later this year, which would dramatically reduce the demand for plastic material.

In general, when material prices are high, increased amounts are recycled, leading to better PRN availability and lower PRN prices for UK packaging producers.

Export outlet still important 

Statistics compiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) and Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) show the important role foreign markets continue to play in recycling plastics.

WARP plastic recycling recovery chartMore than half of the plastic recovered in the UK is exported to be turned into new goods or packaging.

Two-thirds of exported plastic goes to the Chinese market, further reinforcing the vital role they play in the success of UK recycling. With the volume of plastic recovered increasing year on year, the UK is leaning on foreign outlets to take material as UK reprocessing appears to have somewhat stagnated between 2014 and 2015. Low oil prices are a major contributing factor to zero domestic plastic reprocessing growth.

We rely on the global community

Commercial manager, Robbie Staniforth, commented, “To quote Kofi Annan, ‘arguing against globalisation is like arguing against the laws of gravity’. We rely on the global community, especially Europe and the East for all sorts of goods and services. The recycling market is no different. We actively work to increase UK recycling and reprocessing but it needs to make economic sense. The reality is that foreign markets actively want material to recycle and that’s great news for keeping plastic out of landfill and refuse-derived fuel.”

Olivia Green

Key account manager

Olivia joined Ecosurety in October 2014 as a Graduate account specialist. Now, as a key account manager, her role involves working with our members to provide support across all aspects of the company.

Written by
Olivia Green
Packaging, Compliance

Useful links

Plastic recycling infrastructure and education must jointly improve

The UK needs to improve both recycling infrastructure and reach out harder to consumers to make them care more about recycling, if it is to solve the pressing issue of plastic recycling in the UK.


PRN system to be reviewed by National Audit Office

The Environmental Audit Committee requests review due to concerns over a lack of transparency and the potential for fraud. 


Ecosurety leads expert panel debate at Packaging Innovations 2018

With the hot topics of plastic packaging and the 25 Year Environment Plan at the forefront of the national agenda, we lead an expert panel discussion next month to gain insight and perspective from across industry.