We are closing in on the end of another successful year of commercial and industrial plastic recycling here at Seraphim Plastics. As we look forward to 2024, we know our industry will face challenges. But as we do with each new year, we will face those challenges head-on in ways that allow us to keep serving our clients in Tennessee and beyond.
Looking ahead, we see a number of potentially impactful challenges coming our way. How the industrial plastic recycling industry deals with those challenges will set the stage for continued operations in years to come. As always, Seraphim Plastics will keep doing what we do best: buying industrial scrap plastic and recycling it.
From our perspective, here are the biggest challenges our industry is looking at for 2024:
1. Instability in the Petroleum Market
Plastics are derived from petroleum. Therefore, demand for recycled plastic is somewhat influenced by petroleum prices. When oil is extremely cheap, manufacturers can often purchase virgin plastic cheaper than recycled material. That makes regrind a tough sell. But when oil prices are high, recycled plastic is more attractive.
One of our biggest challenges in the coming months could be instability in the petroleum market. With wars in Ukraine and the Middle East ongoing and plenty of unrest elsewhere in the world, the potential for more instability is there. All we can do is pay attention to see how it all plays out.
2. The Collapse of Post-Consumer Recycling
It was late 2022 when Greenpeace USA issued its scathing report declaring post-consumer plastic recycling a complete failure. The realities of post-consumer recycling have been well known to those of us in the recycling industry for decades. But to the average person on the street, the Greenpeace report was a shocking eyeopener.
Unfortunately, the failures of post-consumer recycling have given post-industrial recycling a less than reliable reputation. People do not realize that the industrial recycling sector is viable, profitable, and very effective at keeping plastic waste out of landfills and incinerators. Still, post-industrial recycling may struggle to overcome an undeserved bad reputation.
3. Growing Dissatisfaction With Chemical Recycling
Hand-in-hand with the collapse of post-consumer recycling is a growing dissatisfaction with chemical plastic recycling. Various groups obsessed with eliminating plastic entirely have made chemical recyclers the latest target. Unfortunately, they are starting to make headway in convincing people that chemical recycling is bad news. Will they come after mechanical recycling next? Anything is possible.
4. Treaties and Legislation
Another big challenge moving forward is dealing with new anti-pollution treaties and laws. As governments take more aggressive steps to limit plastic waste, they are looking for ways to make life more difficult for manufacturers and recyclers. This is unfortunate. Increased rules and regulations only make it tougher for us to do what we do. And at this point, regulators around the world do not show any signs of slowing down.
There is a positive side to this particular aspect: some lawmakers are pushing for higher volumes of recycled plastics in manufactured products in the future. Laws to that effect could make post-industrial plastic recycling more lucrative by leading to higher prices for recycled materials. But again, we’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out.
We expect to have another good year in 2024. We plan to continue purchasing industrial scrap plastic waste and recycling it with our mechanical process. Whether you have plastic to sell or are looking to purchase regrind, we might be able to help. Contact Seraphim Plastics and let us know your needs. There is a good chance we can meet them.