Has the UK recycling industry fallen prey to a market slump, low oil prices and a decline in product demand? Are we in desperate need for reform?
According to The Guardian, 2014-2015 marked a 40% decline in the prices for recycled plastics. That and the recent lowering in oil prices have created a gap between the costs of 'virgin' and recycled plastics, a gap that neither producers, nor consumers seem to be willing to pay for.
UK recycling giants Closed Loop Recycling went bankrupt early 2015, after decades of handling 70% of all milk bottle recycling in the UK.
If it happened to an industry giant, who's to say how many smaller, younger UK recycling and waste management companies went under as well?
Recent news report over 60 abandoned waste mounds were found across the UK, left to rot by out of business recycling companies.
The firms were founded on private property and continued to collect waste, even after the business started going awry. It looks like no actions were taken by the agencies responsible to prevent such a scenario from happening, nor is it possible to impose sanctions on the people responsible.
The collection and removal of the rubbish piled up in these areas around Kent, Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Fife will cost millions of pounds to both The Environment Agency and the landowners. Enormous costs and hazardous emissions are just the outcome to an issue that many speculate starts back at the UK's economical and legal recycling policies.
Environmentalists and citizens call for a rigorous reform in licensing and supervision of waste companies.
Roger Baynham, chairman of the BPF RG (British Plastics Federation Recycling Group), however, claims more drastic changes need to be made.
He commented back in 2015 that the UK needs to pursue harder a “circular economy” where waste is used as a resource in local production, rather than depend on low-cost economies and importers such as China.
“We have effectively reached a fork in the road. Do nothing, accept that the U.K. recycling sector will struggle to compete with global low-cost economies and become increasingly dependent on such markets for our scrap or implement changes that can deliver successful and investable long-term recycling businesses that create green U.K. jobs as part of a sustainable circular economy... “