The plastic recycling market, and its businesses, are suffering under the crossfire of friends, real or alleged and declared enemies, with the consequence that a entire sector of the circular economy risks disappearing or significantly reduced with all the environmental consequences we can imagine.
Recyclers are people who are a bit counter-current, they started their business by collecting the plastic that was thrown away as waste by society, seen a bit like a dirty sector , poor and unimportant.
They transformed this poor business into a mature market economically, technologically and ecologically virtuous, long before the high-sounding names of the production chain attributed the merits to it.
They have endured the sterile attacks of public opinion, enamored of the messages on the abolition of plastic that rode the crusade against the polluted sea, as if it were the fault of plastic and not of those who disperse it in the environment.
They continued to recycle, employ, pay taxes and clean up the planet, in silence, with stubborn belief that they were on the right track, despite everything.
But when their activities took on an important dimension in the plastics market, after major investments, hard work, studies and progress, they found themselves facing obstacles that were difficult to overcome:
• The price of virgin raw materials has collapsed to a point where some recycled raw materials cost more than virgin ones, resulting in the collapse in demand.
• Due to the reduced profitability of the recycling sector, investments remain limited and plastic waste on the market does not always find the right place.
• The costs for the recycling cycle remain high, also due to the high cost of energy, preventing a greater expansion of raw material sales.
• Price competition with virgin raw materials does not give a boost to the circular economy in developing countries with negative environmental consequences.
• A widespread political lack of support for the recycling of plastics that requires the use of ever-increasing recycled plastic in products where it can be used.
• A lack of economic support for the recycling sector that allows it to sustain itself and carry out the social and environmental work to which citizens are entitled.
But solving these problems does not exhaust the tasks to arrive at the application of the circularity of plastic waste, if it does not go further on chemical recycling, for that percentage of plastic non-recyclable, on the creation of 100% recyclable packaging and on renewable energy that must be available to industry at low cost.