There has been a bit more positivity in the plastics market since my last report at the end of January.
Although we are still faced with the many issues that have been encountered from the 1st January, loads are now moving more freely as exporters have become more familiar with the new export processes and we are now starting to satisfy some of the continued high demand for UK material from European and Turkish processors.
This strong demand has boosted the price of LDPE film grades in particular. HDPE and PP grades have also seen price increases in recent weeks.
However, there are still many challenges for UK plastic recyclers and traders. Shipping is still difficult with increased paperwork such as T1 documents and customs clearance causing delays at ports.
These delays are easing thankfully but can still cause issues with planning orders and delivery dates. Inevitably the cost of shipping has increased but currently this is being offset by higher sell prices and more buoyant PRN prices
With this increased demand and pricing from Europe, UK processors are finding it hard to compete and risking a shortage of material to meet their production requirements.
Furthermore, the EA have confirmed tighter controls for exporting to Turkey. The Turkish authorities have banned imports of mixed grades such as mixed bottles, mixed rigids and PTT (pots, tubs & trays).
In addition, dirty material and material that has been mechanically sorted have also been banned meaning grades like construction film, MRF film, optically sorted HDPE and PET bottles are all banned. With Turkey historically being a huge outlet for these, many exporters will be looking for alternative outlets for these grades.
There will be many challenges ahead in 2021 but my experience since joining the UK recycling sector over 15 years ago is that it is a resilient, adaptable sector with many talented individuals and forward thinking companies.
I have no doubt these issues will be overcome and I am particularly encouraged by the number of new UK processors coming on line to process lower grades such as dirty and mixed plastic grades.
Martin Robb is sales and marketing director at Nevis Resources