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Global recycling market update February 2020

The global market for recycling materials continues to shift and this is having an effect across New Zealand and the world.

The volatile market is a direct result of China’s Operation National Sword which, in 2017, put significant restrictions on the recycling materials China would accept.

Other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have also adopted similar measures.

Today there is now little to no demand worldwide for most plastic types 3 to 7, such as soft plastics, styrofoam and most of the plastics used in food packaging. This has made them, in practice, no longer recyclable and means we have had to limit the type of plastics we collect in many regions.

There is also very little demand for cardboard and mixed paper recycling, which is driving down prices for these recyclable materials.

Markets that do accept recyclable materials have very strict quality requirements. There must be little to no contamination and, therefore, the costs to collect and process recyclable materials is increasing. At the same time, the price paid for those materials is reducing. 

As a result, our recycling prices have increased and are likely to continue to do so.