Small increase in demand for plastics at start of 2023 says BIR

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Henk Alssema
BIR plastic committee chairman Henk Alssema

BIR’s Plastics Committee has said that there was a small increase in demand for recycled plastics at the beginning of 2023.

In the latest World Mirror, BIR Plastics Committee chair Henk Alssema said that January saw a slight improvement after plummeting prices at the end of last year.

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He added: “January saw a slight improvement in demand for secondary raw materials following the steep drop at the end of last year. Plummeting demand led to a significant supply of raw materials and resulted in falling prices. PP was the big loser with prices under enormous pressure, but HDPE and LDPE also saw substantial price drops.

“Demand for HIPS and ABS stayed reasonably level and so the prices of these qualities remained fairly stable. Primary raw materials also witnessed steep price declines in response to a significant reduction in demand.

“At present, it is still difficult to work out which way the market is going, with the threat of a possible recession still looming over it. Uncertainty is being fanned by the Ukraine conflict as well as by tensions between the USA and China. Even so, many economists are predicting the recession will be mild, if there is one at all.”

He also noted that there were different views on the proposed EU ban on exports of recyclable plastics to non-OECD countries.

“The EU aims to impose a ban on plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries as soon as possible,” he added. “On January 17 this year, the proposal to amend the legislation on waste shipments was passed with an overwhelming 594 votes in favour and only five votes against.

“The reasoning is to provide better protection for humans and the environment, and to use Europe‚Äôs waste better towards achieving its circular economy targets. According to the European Parliament, the export ban to non-OECD countries is to come into force as soon as possible, which is likely to be three years after the EU Waste Shipment Regulation review becomes effective.

“Opinions on amendments to the Regulation are strongly divided. European players in the market see it as a game-changer as it creates a massive impetus to design plastics that can be recycled and reused better and to increase the recycling capacity within the EU in the short term.

“Global players, meanwhile, view it as a serious restriction owing to the anticipated red tape it will bring. They see recycling as a global trade that should not be hampered by national or regional boundaries. The proposals ignore the fact, they say, that recycled materials are international raw materials which make a global contribution to saving primary resources when used in the processing industry.”