Making a profit from plastics recycling isn't easy – feedstock quality is an issue and end markets can be fickle, so how can a recycler make a return on its investment? Ian Porter, managing director of Regain Polymers, has an answer.
“It's being focussed on your input and output materials,” he explained. “You need to focus on the yield and ensure you have a secure feedstock. Also, a lot of people invest without enough knowledge of the end market.
“We're in a good position here because we're supplying the moulders who are supplying into the end markets. We are not focused down one channel so we're not reliant on food-grade material, we're not reliant on automotive and we're not reliant on construction.
Flexibility also has to be part of the process, said Porter. “Our business operates in such as way that most of our materials can be moved around from one sector to another to meet the specifications required for that business.
“So if the automotive industry collapses we can move some of that material into some of the other markets. You won't always make the same sorts of margins but it's about being flexible and light on your feet.
“If we were focused down particular channel you'd have some peaks but you also have some pretty deep troughs as well.”
The big question, however, remains about who uses recycled plastics.
“You've still got the people who are using it instead of prime and that's a very competitive market,” said Porter. “But in some of the other areas where we supply it's being driven top-down.
“You've got some of these automotive companies, for example, who at board level have statements for their corporate social responsibility – they're challenged to get recycled content into the end product.
“That's easy for us – especially when it's being driven from the top. Packaging developers and the people making the products are being directed to do it because it's already got support from management.
“So long as we've got the feedstocks and the wherewithal to be flexible we'll be able to supply a range of markets.”