KUALA LUMPUR (ICIS)--Global bans and the introduction of levies to combat plastic wastes will spur the development of commercial recycling options in the future, the CEO of Borouge's marketing and sales company said on Monday.
“I believe we are at the beginning of what you can do with recycled plastic material, not at the end,” Wim Roels told ICIS on the sidelines of the 2018 Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“I expect in the years to come, more and more applications will be more possible with partially or even using 100% recycled materials,” Roels said.
“We have a waste problem, so it’s important that everybody – society, governments, industries – do something about it and today, the most efficient way is to recycle the plastic,” he said.
Governments in more than 60 countries have introduced fines, with some even implementing bans, to reduce the amount of plastic wastes, according to a United Nationas (UN) Environment report earlier this year.
China, starting from 1 January this year, banned imports of plastic waste, forcing countries like the US to find new avenues to deal with their own trash.
In the short term, the ban will increase virgin material sales in China, which has, in turn, been driving up prices of a number of products.
“Recycling capacity is still available in China and will remain so, and I believe we will see more Chinese waste being recycled rather than imported plastic waste… At the same time the waste will not just disappear and will go to other places for recycling,” Roels said.
“Recycling is an area where we will see significant or dramatic developments in the years to come in many of the Asian countries,” Roels said.
“Plastic waste can and should be used as plastic raw material. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
More plastic waste will remain in Europe and the US, for example, and this will encourage domestic recycling.
“Recycling or recycled material will become a stream of new material that will appear and you will it see basically on a global basis,” Roels said.
For the time being, chemically breaking down plastic waste and transforming them into different applications remains “commercially borderline”, but this can be possible route as the technology develops further, he said.
Meanwhile, mechanical recycling methods to recover plastics waste will be the best way forward, with various low-end applications and multi-layered products out in the market which combines virgin and recycled plastics, according to Roels.
Borouge’s parent firm Borealis, which is an Austrian polymers producer, has recently made investments to boost its capacity for post-consumer polyolefin recyclates in Germany, he said.
The 2018 APIC runs on 20-21 August.
Interview article by Nurluqman Suratman