Road ahead for recycled PET markets complicated by coronavirus-induced supply disruptions

21 May 2020

Recycled PET was already set to have a tough 2020 as more virgin resin came on the market at incredibly cheap prices, threatening the viability of recycled materials. And then came the pandemic.

Now, slowed collection and processing of coveted food-grade plastics could cut back on the amount of the resin in the recycling system. And when life becomes more normal again, the market could flood with pent-up recycled PET. 

Experts seem skeptical that consumer brands will abandon their commitments to increasing the amount of recycled plastic in their products. But the appeal of cheap virgin resin is expected to persist, especially as crude oil hits record-low prices. Market shifts could cut how much a MRF earns off the recycled resin, a consequence that could filter down to how much residents are charged for collection services, according to Darwin Baas, director of Kent County, Michigan's Department of Public Works. “That’s where the rubber is going to hit the road," he told Waste Dive.

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