Published On: Tue, Nov 9th, 2010

Plastics Recyclers Report on ‘Tremendous’ Future at BIR World Recycling Convention

New regulations, general public perceptions and resource conservation fears are combining to create a “tremendous” future for plastics recycling, according to Surendra Borad of Belgium-based Gemini Corp. NV.

The chairman of the Bureau of International Recycling’s (BIR) plastics committee told those in attendance at the committee’s round table and trading session in Brussels recently that a plethora of new environmental initiatives such as carbon emission reductions and recycling targets will have an enormous impact on the recycling industry. Having asserted that anything with a “green” association is becoming increasingly popular, Borad also insisted that recycling is widely accepted as “the most obvious solution” to the ever-deepening scarcity of resources.

Borad also reiterated his call for plastics recycling to be eligible for carbon credits.

Borad told the committee that plastics consumption in India is likely to grow strongly given that current per capita usage of 6 kilograms per year falls well short of the world average of 27 kilograms. In the weeks leading up to the Brussels meeting, however, demand from India had declined significantly, he added.

According to Jacques Musa of Veolia Propreté France Recycling, the Chinese plastics scrap market has been “weaker than expected” in 2010 as many buyers have adopted a “wait-and-see” policy. Demand has been affected, he suggested, by a number of events within China, including the development of prime polyethylene production, energy-saving restrictions, tighter customs controls, higher labor costs and exchange rate movements.

As an illustration of China’s importance to the global market, Musa pointed out that the country imported 3.14 million metric tons of plastic scrap in the first five months of this year.

Commenting on the French market, Musa contended that “strong” demand for secondary material has resulted in some “low qualities” coming forward. And in his report on the German and Dutch markets, Peter Daalder of Daly Plastics in the Netherlands complained about the substantial additional costs entailed by the increased frequency of container scans at ports. He also called for a stop on the production of biodegradable plastics to avoid any problems in the recycling process.

In the first of two guest presentations, Faisal Baig of optical sorting specialist Buhler Sortex Ltd in the United Kingdom provided illustrations of how value can be added to a material stream by introducing optical sorting at various stages on PET (polyethylene terephthalate), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride)and WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) processing lines. Through judicious use of sorting options, recyclers can achieve “70 to 80 percent of the virgin price,” he insisted.

Dirk Segers, managing director of Belgium-based Marsh SA, underlined the importance to exporters of re-evaluating risks on a regular basis in order to ensure optimum insurance cover. He also urged exporters to “know your customers” and also to gain an understanding of shipping-related issues that may apply to their country or region.


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