Plastic market

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Market Situation Report – Summer 2010

Realising the value of recovered plastics – an update

Date: August 2010

WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. We work with businesses and individuals to help them reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. Find our more at

Frontcover photography: Mixed plastics in a materials recycling facility WRAP believe the content of this report to be correct as at the date of writing. However, factors such as prices, levels of recycled content and regulatory requirements are subject to change and users of the report should check with their suppliers to confirm the current situation. In addition, care should be taken in using any ofthe cost information provided as it is based upon numerous project-specific assumptions (such as scale, location, tender context, etc.). The report does not claim to be exhaustive, nor does it claim to cover all relevant products and specifications available on the market. While steps have been taken to ensure accuracy, WRAP cannot accept responsibility or be held liable to any person for any lossor damage arising out of or in connection with this information being inaccurate, incomplete or misleading. It is the responsibility of the potential user of a material or product to consult with the supplier or manufacturer and ascertain whether a particular product will satisfy their specific requirements. The listing or featuring of a particular product or company does not constitute anendorsement by WRAP and WRAP cannot guarantee the performance of individual products or materials. This material is copyrighted. It may be reproduced free of charge subject to the material being accurate and not used in a misleading context. The source of the material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged. This material must not be used to endorse or used to suggest WRAP’s endorsementof a commercial product or service. For more detail, please refer to WRAP’s Terms & Conditions on its web site:

Welcome to the recovered plastic market situation report update, part of our series of reports that examine current economic conditions in the markets for recovered materials. We published our first plastic market situation report in late 2007. Thisupdate looks at the key developments in the UK markets for recovered plastic since that report was published including trends in collections, existing and planned domestic reprocessing capacity, export markets, prices and legislative issues. Key themes to emerge from the plastics recycling sector are:

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in 2009, an estimated 900,000 tonnes of plastics was collected for recycling. Of this,590,000 tonnes was plastic packaging; over 700,000 tonnes of recovered plastics were exported for recycling in 2009, predominantly to China. About two-thirds of this is estimated to be packaging. The primary trading route for material destined for China continued to be via Hong Kong; the plastic bottle recycling rate now stands at over 40% and there has been extensive investment in UK plastic bottleprocessing capacity over the past two years; attention has now turned to collecting and developing infrastructure to recycle mixed packaging plastics, less than 5% of which is currently recycled. Around 20% of local authorities already operate kerbside mixed plastic collections, and 2011 will see the operation of the UK’s first mixed plastic reprocessing facility; demand for food-grade recoveredpolymers currently outstrips supply. With demand likely to strengthen further, this represents an opportunity for UK manufacturers of recovered polymers; recycling of non-packaging plastics has also increased in recent years, largely as a result of regulatory drivers; and prices for recovered plastics have been volatile over the past two years, but currently stand close to, and in some cases...
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