As I continue to put more energy into our Harvestcare aluminium packaging line, my podcast interviews are continuing to confirm how uncertain times are for recycled plastic.
Yesterday, I had a teleconference with one of the government agencies I have to go through to get our annual Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day approved. I explained how that event was needed more than ever as more people are congregating outside and yet less likely to pick up rubbish because of the Covid-19 crisis.
In the grocery stores and cafes, reuse is being restricted to mitigate the risk of this virus spreading. But sometimes this doesn’t necessarily make any sense. For example, some places are banning reusable shopping bags when it’s much more controllable to wash your bag than to assume that single use bags sitting at the check-out all day are safer.
At the same time, there are some micro forces that can also impact the industry. This includes the price of oil falling into negative territory. As plastic is a derivative of oil, virgin plastic will become considerably cheaper than recycled plastic. This will make it even harder to find uses for recycled plastic when most businesses are just trying to survive right now.
It’s unfortunate that in a few short months, so much work and momentum to reduce plastic waste is suddenly being reversed by market pressures. At the same time, nothing has changed about the fundamental problems with plastic. It will still take centuries to degrade, and now there’s even more out there as personal protection equipment is being found in bulk in waterways in some countries.
As an entrepreneur in this industry, I can only try to adapt the best that I can to these uncertain times while maintaining the mission. Quite frankly, that’s all anyone can do.