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Plastic recyclers pushing to reduce carbon footprint

PETALING JAYA: Plastic recyclers, hard hit by a drop in demand and bad press last year and the pandemic now, are pushing forward in their attempts to repurpose waste and reduce carbon footprint.

“We are now in talks with the National Solid Waste Management Department and other organisations to come up with a roadmap to promote the use of recycled materials to local manufacturers,” said Malaysia Plastic Recycles Association secretary Daniel Loo.

“The UK government is giving tax relief to manufacturers who use plastic packaging that contains 30% recycled plastics,” he said, with a hint that perhaps Malaysia could do likewise.

Loo urged Malaysians to do their part in protecting the earth by adhering to the principle of “reduce, reuse and recycle”.

Describing the predicament of the local plastic recyclers, Loo said the industry has been in a slump since last August when the average price for crude oil dropped to RM248 per barrel.

“Demand for recycled plastic has dropped by about 50% since then,” he told theSun yesterday.

Petroleum is one of the raw materials used for the manufacturing of plastic resin, the main base of all plastics.

Loo said when crude oil prices drop, manufacturers prefer to buy virgin plastic resin rather than recycled plastic resin.

“Virgin plastic is perceived to have better properties than recycled plastics. But recycled plastic resin used to be about 30 to 40% cheaper than virgin plastic resin and that gave us an advantage.

“Now we have lost this advantage as we could only keep our prices at about 20% cheaper than virgin plastics,” he explained.

Loo said when the international benchmark Brent crude hit a multi-year low of RM94.32 per barrel in late April, “many plastic recyclers resorted to cashing out because they needed money during the MCO, and sold their stocks for very small profits”.

Crude oil prices have since risen with Brent crude chalking RM186.73 a barrel at press time yesterday.

Loo also said news reports of illegal dumping, import of foreign rubbish and the like have painted plastic recyclers in a bad light.

“However, it is the duty of the association to (help members) overcome such adverse situations. There are still many genuine plastic recyclers who stay put even if profits are low,” he added.

On a positive note, Loo said there has been a surge in demand recently, and he expected the situation to improve further.

“We’re seeing more orders coming in lately. We are expecting more orders towards the end of the year when the holiday seasons tend to generate more demand for plastics as manufacturers in India and China will ramp up production,” he said.

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