Recycled plastic prices double to hit new record as supplies continue to be affected

The price for the most commonly used type of recycled plastic has doubled in just a year to hit a new record as companies struggle with the pressure placed on the global supply chain.

The news has come at a poor time for drinks and consumer goods groups who have started the year with ambitious targets.

Post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in Europe have skyrocketed 103% to £1,411 since January last year, according to figures from data group ICIS.

In order to produce the material, bales of used bottles are needed to make the flakes, however the price has more than tripled since January 2021.

The demand for post-consumer plastics has outweighed the impact of fossil fuel prices and the price of newly-made plastic.

READ MORE: Amazon’s plastic waste surges by a third during pandemic

Single-use plastics have been under the spotlight ever since 2017, when David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II documentary showed the environmental impacts of using them.

The drinks industry responded with some of its biggest brands including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Keurig Dr Pepper and Danone are all targeting at least 25% or more post-consumer recycled content in their packaging by 2025.

This number is a target mandated for bottles by the EU, however some have much higher targets individually.

“Projects are going on hold and the ramping up [of recycled plastics use] has really slowed — that’s what we are hearing from suppliers,” ICIS senior analyst Helen McGeough told the Financial Times.

Sustainability consultant Sue Garrard also added: “Supply of recycled PET doesn’t anything like match the demand because the recycling industry can’t scale fast enough even with the strong buying signals created by [companies’] targets.”

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