Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), an organization representing European plastics recyclers, has warned that much of its industry is closing production due to market developments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to PRE, the main drivers behind this slump are the lack of demand due to the closure of converting plants and record low prices of virgin plastics, as well as decreased activity globally.

Ton Emans, PRE president, commented: “If the situation is to persist and no actions are taken to remedy the sector, plastics recycling will cease to be profitable, hampering the attainment of the EU recycling targets and putting in jeopardy the transition towards circular plastics.

“In such a case, recyclable plastic waste will have no alternatives but to be sent to landfill or incineration.”

In the view of PRE, damage to the recycling market would, in addition to grave environmental consequences, have far-reaching socio-economic impacts due to the number of people employed in the waste management value chain. Further, PRE argues that safeguarding the positive developments within this market is essential in terms of Europe’s use of virgin plastics and, therefore, for the survival of the secondary raw materials market, as well as further investments in the sector.

The plastics recycling industry says it is calling on the EU and member states to include recycling as one of the sectors supported by their recovery plans and to continue implementing the measures under the Circular Economy umbrella.