Is plastic recycling profitable?

Tech & Nature

A drop in the price of new plastic could thwart the EU's recycling goals. The low oil price caused by the corona crisis has also caused plastic prices to collapse. Domestic waste disposal companies warned that it would be cheaper for industry to use new plastic instead of recycled plastic. The branch representative VOEB warned of the end of plastic recycling in Austria.

70 percent of the companies are idle

"Cheap new goods are the nightmare of plastics recyclers," it says in the broadcast. The prices for new plastics have collapsed by almost 50 percent and the crisis has also reduced demand. 70 percent of plastics recyclers in Austria would already be standing still. Political goals of meeting higher recycling quotas in the coming years could be a thing of the past. According to VOEB, around 10 percent of plastics production in Austria is currently covered by recyclates.

Circular economy "clogged": We are left with our plastic waste

Demand for mandatory quotas

Now the association is calling for mandatory quotas for the use of recycled plastic in industry and business. “We need a market for recycled plastic. Otherwise there will soon be no more plastics recycling in Austria ”, says Gaby Jüly, the new President of the VOEB. She advocates quotas: “That can only be a political decision. In the current government program, politicians are already setting an example and want to prioritize sustainable products made from recycled materials in public procurement, but that will not be enough. "

EU recycling quotas difficult to meet

The EU adopted circular economy measures in 2018. EU countries are therefore fundamentally obliged to recycle 50 percent of plastic waste by 2025 and to increase this quota to 55 percent by 2030. For Austria, according to VOEB, this means a doubling of recycled plastic from currently 75,000 to 150,000 tons per year. Only recently Austria also joined the independent “European Plastics Pact”, with which governments and companies commit themselves to even stricter goals.

Austria is now part of the controversial “European Plastics Pact”

A total of 10 recycling companies with 550 employees are involved in plastics recycling in Austria. “Our operations are state-of-the-art and could produce up to 300,000 tons of recycled plastic per year. But the job has to be worth it. If there is no market for it, production is simply no longer profitable. We will have no choice but to close the plants, ”says Werner Kruschitz, Managing Director of Kruschitz Recycling Plastics.