The persistence of the international value of a barrel of crude oil around US $ 50 meant that the business of recycling PET, plastic to manufacture packaging, was reduced in Argentina, from US $ 162 million to US $ 73 million per year In the last three years.
The recycling of this type of plastic in the country went from 81,000 to 56,250 tons per year, in line with prices that fell from US $ 2,000 to US $ 1,300 per ton in the same period, according to industry sources.
The contraction of the recycled packaging market also threatens the plastic recycling sector in general, which has an idle capacity of 50% and employs around 50,000 workers.
The drop in the international price of PET “produced a fall in the profitability of companies, which had to adjust to the new price, but also caused the number of recycled tons to fall, something that is not good,” said the relations manager Institutions of Ecopek, Carlos Briones, to the agency Télam.
In Argentina, there are 150 companies that recycle PET (polyethylene terephthalate), of which 30 companies hold 11,250 of the current level of 56,250 tons per year.
The main companies in the sector are Reciclar SA, Amiplast, Alta Plástica and Ecopek, which is the only one in Argentina that has the technology to recycle plastic and use it to pack food.
Briones said that different oil products, such as plastics “were hurt by the drop in the price of the barrel,” which collapsed from US $ 107.90 in June 2014 to US $ 50 in early 2015, value Average in which it has remained since then.
“In Argentina, about 225,000 tons of PET are used annually, of which 25% comes from recycling,” he said.
He stressed that “three years ago, the proportion of recycled PET was 36%”, which pointed out that the share of reused plastic “went from 81,000 to 56,250 tons per year.”
He indicated that “in addition to shrinking the recycling market in quantity also did in volume”; And stated that “of US $ 162 million that represented this business annually, went to US $ 73 million.”
Despite this, Briones remarked that “the recycling activity is sustained thanks to the decision of companies such as Coca Cola and Danone that for a matter of corporate social responsibility have a large participation in the purchase of recycled PET to manufacture their packaging.”
Meanwhile, the manager of Government Affairs of the civil association Ecoplas, Veronica Ramos, said that “so far this year the ban that rules in the Buenos Aires area caused 40,000 tons of polyethylene not reach recyclers.”
He added that “the recycling industry currently employs 50,000 people, but has an idle capacity of 50%”, although “it could occupy about 120,000 workers.”
Coca Cola has just launched Recycle, a platform with about 20 recycling points located in supermarkets where consumers can carry plastic, glass and tetra-brik containers for sorting, gathering and baling, which are then withdrawn by cooperatives and transported to Plants where they are converted into recycled raw material.
“Although at this juncture of international prices using recycled PET implies an economic effort, it is necessary to do so,” said Coca Coca’s Director of Government Affairs, Cristian Pérez.
“One of Recycle’s objectives is to strengthen the material recovery network,” he added,
He stressed that “as the available material increases, the market continues to be energized,” and concluded that “the effort of recycling the packaging is worth it.”
Concern about the reduction in the business also reached the Argentine Chamber of the Plastic Industry (CAIP), whose manager, Sergio Hilbrecht, stressed that “what happens to the PET adds the situation of another sector that is the High density polyethylene “(HDPE).
“So far this year 50 companies closed, with the consequent dismissal of 500 workers in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires,” warned about the HDPE industry.
Hilbrecht said that “this is due to the prohibition that governs the city of Buenos Aires from January to the delivery of the so-called T-shirt bag by the supermarkets.”
He stressed that this situation “already caused the plastic industry an economic loss of $ 50 million, to which must add another $ 150 million of compensation payments for dismissals.”