Recent falling oil prices have sparked reports of financial challenges at leading supplier of rHDPE, Closed Loop Recycling. Eric Collins, managing director of Nampak Plastics, shares his insight into the effect this could have on the recycled plastic industry in the UK.
In recent months I have read with interest and in all honesty, a little sadness, numerous sources claiming that certain dairy packaging companies are planning on switching back to virgin HDPE due to price issues. As Closed Loop Recycling produces a significant percentage of recycled plastic used in milk bottles in the UK it is inevitable they are suffering. Although we do not want to comment directly on Closed Loop’s status, we do feel that it is essential during this unstable period that the British dairy supply chain works with Nampak to maintain a commitment to rHDPE.
This issue resonates deeply with Nampak as it has been at the heart of the business right from the very beginning. We have been on a four-year mission to produce packaging that meets environmental standards, and to create products that are lighter in weight than their predecessors. Our efforts have resulted in radical changes for dairy packaging. The current rHDPE inclusion rate of up to 20% in our bottles means a 14% reduction in the amount of carbon used. Light weighting with our Infini range of bottles delivers a further 20% carbon reduction. That’s a huge amount, double the industry standard, and Nampak achieved this two years ahead of the Dairy UK and Defra Roadmap targetsSubsequently, it is clear any loss of a supplier of rHDPE to the industry would have a negative impact on availability of recycled material – that’s why we are urging the dairy supply chain to maintain their commitment to it. It’s crucial that we don’t switch back to virgin material having developed, established and sustained a true circular economy. The sharp turn in the industry is an indicator of how quickly things can fluctuate, but I am confident the recycled plastic industry will be back on track in the near future and all our efforts won’t be lost.