japanja
Our role in the world’s plastic pollution

Our role in the world’s plastic pollution

21-05-2021 | Graph of the week
We’ve all seen the images of the devastating effect single-use plastic is having around the world. The call to reduce plastic usage and thus also the relevance of recycling is growing rapidly. But recycling plastic into new packaging costs money. Household plastic waste has to be sorted, melted into pellets and reformed into new packaging. And then there's transport costs, for anything from household waste collection to further processing. That is why recycled plastic is often more expensive than new plastic. It’s also one of the main reasons why so much plastic waste is still being generated.
  • Sylvia van Waveren
    Sylvia
    van Waveren
    Engagement Specialist

PET vs virgin

This problem is depicted clearly in the graph below, which shows the price of recycled plastic minus that of ‘virgin plastic’ between 2009 and now. This relates specifically to the price of PET (polythylene tereftalate), commonly used to package soft drink. Until 2019, the price of recycled PET was higher than that of new material. 

In 2020, recycled PET was cheaper than its virgin counterpart for the first time ever. In 2021, we’ve seen the balance shift once again and the prices of the two products more or less equalize. 

Graph of the week
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a chart can say it all. Our Graph of the Week gives the top picks from the Robeco Investment Solutions team.
Graph of the week
Overview
Source: S&P Global Platts

A change for good?

Nevertheless, it looks like recycled plastic will become the cheaper version again in the coming months. Firstly, because on 1 January 2021 the EU introduced a new plastic tax – a call rate of EUR 0.80 per kilogram new plastic packaging waste that isn’t recycled –  which makes it more appealing for packaging companies to purchase recycled plastic.

Secondly, considerable work is underway to improve the recycling infrastructure as well as recycling techniques. Of particular note is the growing share of chemical recycling. Instead of tearing up plastic into small pellets in shredders, chemicals are used to convert the plastic back into its original ingredients. What is more, chemical recycling means that many more types of plastic can be recycled. 

A third reason why recycled plastic can become cheaper again is that the industry is maturing. Now that China is setting very strict requirements for the waste flows it imports, we are seeing a growing number of other countries becoming more critical about their own waste flow. Instead of simply exporting rubbish, they are better mapping local waste flows, so that they can be used to keep driving profits from recycling. 

According to Eurostat, around 40% of Europe’s plastic waste is currently recycled. But as a result of new rules, that percentage is set to increase in the years ahead – significantly, we expect. 

The role of investors

Plastic waste is playing an increasingly bigger role for investors. In 2019, Robeco began a three-year engagement theme as part of which we hold regular discussions with ten companies on their use, processing and reuse of single-use plastic. We are very enthusiastic about the approach taken by some companies since starting this dialogue. Increasingly, we see companies adopting a proactive attitude when it comes to reducing the use of plastic in their products. 

We’re also seeing more and more other investors around the world ramping up requirements and making their voice heard more often. For instance, American DuPont de Nemours were recently surprised when more than 80% of their shareholders (including Robeco) voted in favor of the company reporting on its role in plastic pollution. 

A world without plastic is simply inconceivable. But thankfully, we can do a lot by tackling single-use plastic. By recycling more, and more efficiently, we can reduce and eventually eradicate plastic pollution from the world. And as investors, we can reap the fruits of this by seizing the opportunities offered in the longer term by companies that adapt their business model accordingly. 

重要事項

当資料は情報提供を目的として、Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V.が作成した英文資料、もしくはその英文資料をロベコ・ジャパン株式会社が翻訳したものです。資料中の個別の金融商品の売買の勧誘や推奨等を目的とするものではありません。記載された情報は十分信頼できるものであると考えておりますが、その正確性、完全性を保証するものではありません。意見や見通しはあくまで作成日における弊社の判断に基づくものであり、今後予告なしに変更されることがあります。運用状況、市場動向、意見等は、過去の一時点あるいは過去の一定期間についてのものであり、過去の実績は将来の運用成果を保証または示唆するものではありません。また、記載された投資方針・戦略等は全ての投資家の皆様に適合するとは限りません。当資料は法律、税務、会計面での助言の提供を意図するものではありません。

ご契約に際しては、必要に応じ専門家にご相談の上、最終的なご判断はお客様ご自身でなさるようお願い致します。

運用を行う資産の評価額は、組入有価証券等の価格、金融市場の相場や金利等の変動、及び組入有価証券の発行体の財務状況による信用力等の影響を受けて変動します。また、外貨建資産に投資する場合は為替変動の影響も受けます。運用によって生じた損益は、全て投資家の皆様に帰属します。したがって投資元本や一定の運用成果が保証されているものではなく、投資元本を上回る損失を被ることがあります。弊社が行う金融商品取引業に係る手数料または報酬は、締結される契約の種類や契約資産額により異なるため、当資料において記載せず別途ご提示させて頂く場合があります。具体的な手数料または報酬の金額・計算方法につきましては弊社担当者へお問合せください。

当資料及び記載されている情報、商品に関する権利は弊社に帰属します。したがって、弊社の書面による同意なくしてその全部もしくは一部を複製またはその他の方法で配布することはご遠慮ください。

商号等: ロベコ・ジャパン株式会社  金融商品取引業者 関東財務局長(金商)第2780号

加入協会: 一般社団法人 日本投資顧問業協会

本記事に関連するテーマ: