With the current turmoil in commodity prices, Resource asked industry commentators to answer the question: To what extent can recycled material replace virgin counterparts?
Recycled material faces two potential barriers to its uptake: price and quality. If making a product out of virgin material is less expensive than making it from recycled content, it’s hard to see how companies that are under pressure to deliver profit will not make what they perceive to be the short-term economic best choice.
Moreover, recycled products must be equitable in terms of quality and the material properties that go with it, which was once a problem with paper (recycled=brown and rough), and has notably been an issue recently with ensuring recycled cardboard and plastics can be used in food-grade applications, for example. Although you still pay a premium for recycled paper now, the industry has proved that 100 per cent recycled can be just as white as virgin (witness the product in your very hands), and other recycled materials have proven quality track records, as well.