EUROPE – Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE) has warned that high electricity prices are putting “the transition towards a circular economy” at risk.

The trade association, which counts Chase Plastics, DS Smith and Pre Zero as its members, explained that as the energy crisis deepens on the continent, high electricity prices are having a negative impact on the operations of plastic recycling facilities.

Due to the fact that plastic recycling facilities run non-stop, energy utilities are among the three major cost factors after labor and maintenance, the association explained.

The association reiterated that what used to represent roughly 15-20% of the total operational costs has soared to 70% given the 400% increase in energy prices.

PRE warned that “this makes it nearly impossible for recycling companies to break even and means that without the European Commission as well as the member states’ intervention, many companies will close.”

According to PRE, the effect can already be observed in Italy, where 40% of plastic recycling operations have been suspended due to unsustainable energy costs.

Last month, Assorimap, the National Association of companies that recycle plastics, outlined that “some plants are already closed, while others have remained operational only a few days of the week, a consequence of the expensive bills, which from June to August have increased by 440%”.

Commenting on the situation, Ton Emans, President of PRE, said: “Stopping the recycling activities will have an immediate, negative impact on the plastic waste management in Europe.

“If we want to drive a circular economy in Europe, plastic recycling must be considered a key industry sector to be targeted by member states’ efforts to protect from the impact of high electricity prices.”

Plastics Recyclers Europe adds that the energy crisis could put the transition towards a circular economy in Europe at risk.

Fluctuations in energy prices undermine recent EU policy and global developments that have boosted investment in plastic recycling capacities in Europe, according to the association.

The organization cautions that there could be “disastrous implications” for the European recycling industry as a result of high energy prices.

In addition, PRE emphasized the importance of the recycling industry in navigating a pathway to a low-carbon EU economy by 2050, highlighting that plastic recycling has the lowest carbon footprint in comparison to incineration or landfill.

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