The legislative rejection of single-use plastic, which is now being worked out in the government and may be considered by the State Duma in the fall, will hit the polymer processing industry and lead to higher prices for goods. This is the opinion of the market players interviewed by Kommersant. In their opinion, the state must first of all create a system of recycling and establish the production of environmentally friendly and economically sound analogs. At the same time, suppliers of raw materials – basic polymers – will lose no more than 10 billion rubles due to the ban. a year, experts say.
In the fall, the government intends to submit to the State Duma a draft amendment to ban the use of certain types of non-recyclable plastic. According to Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko, we are talking about colored plastic, plastic tubes, cotton swabs and disposable tableware. Such products account for about a third of all household waste in Russia. The State Duma promised to promptly consider the bill. As noted by the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Olga Timofeeva, the issue of abandoning non-recyclable plastic “must be brought to an end as soon as possible.” But, according to her, “the main thing is that the ban does not weigh on people and does not lead to a jump in prices.”
The EU has already approved the phasing out of single-use plastic from 2021. In Russia, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, by 2030, 100% of waste should be sorted and no more than half of it should be sent to landfills (now this share is 94%, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources). By the same date, 85% of the packaging should be recyclable. This is not the first attempt to prohibit or restrict the use of plastic in the Russian Federation: in 2007 it was proposed to abandon polymer bags in favor of paper bags, but so far the business lobby has turned out to be stronger.
According to the polymer market players, the ban will primarily affect not the producers of primary raw materials – polyethylene and polypropylene – but its processors. The government promised to provide enterprises, whose products will fall under the ban, a transitional period and allocate state subsidies for re-profiling. Kommersant’s sources in the industry are skeptical about such promises. Kommersant’s interlocutors among plastic recyclers note that they can lose a significant part of their income, and it is often impossible or economically unprofitable to redesign production. Also, in their opinion, analogues that can replace prohibited goods are much more expensive. For example, the price of wooden ear sticks is on average 10 times higher than that of plastic ones.
Petrochemical companies, which themselves are gradually increasing plastic recycling, generally support the government’s idea of a ban. “What is extremely difficult to extract during sorting should be removed from circulation,” said Dmitry Konov, head of SIBUR in March. The company noted that “this position has not changed.”
Kazanorgsintez, another major polymer producer, believes that the ban will have a serious impact not only on plastic factories, but also on subsequent links in the supply chain. “At the moment, the ban is the least effective measure, since the waste production of alternatives to plastics has not been delivered. If, for example, we talk about plastic tubes, only now metal and paper tubes have begun to be displayed in stores. Often they are imported, and their current cost (metal) is higher than ordinary plastic ones, and their environmental friendliness is in doubt: the negative impact on the environment of the same paper and metal production facilities, in our opinion, is obvious, ”the company explained. They believe that the system for the production and use of alternatives to plastics should include larger mechanisms of support from the state. Also, incentives are needed for the development of polymer processing into products with a long life cycle in order to minimize the negative economic consequences for plastics manufacturers, Kazanorgsintez believes.
Nina Adamova from the CEP Gazprombank estimates the Russian market of polymers for consumer purposes at 180-200 billion rubles. But, she says, the share of plastics used in the manufacture of disposable tableware and disposable plastic products for hygiene is not so large. If these products are banned, consumption of basic plastics in the Russian consumer sector will be reduced by no more than 5-10 billion rubles. per year, which will moderately negatively affect the financial performance of both the largest manufacturers of tableware and suppliers of basic polymers, the expert said. In her opinion, with a high degree of probability in the consumer sector, such mass types as polyethylene and polypropylene will be replaced by other materials: biodegradable plastics, materials based on recycled paper, food waste.