Demand for recycled plastics is growing rapidly around the globe as governments and businesses move to curb the environmental and societal impacts of plastic waste.
A 2021 report by S&P Global Platts Analysts says that mechanically recycled plastics are expected to displace over 1.7 million tonnes of virgin polymer feedstocks by 2030, compared with 688,000 tonnes in 2020.
Several drivers propel this demand, including policy initiatives, consumer awareness and commitments by multimillion-dollar brands.
An outcome of this trend is the Rebound Plastic Exchange (RPX), officially launched in Abu Dhabi on 5 September.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), RPX serves as a global business-to-business (B2B) marketplace to trade recycled plastics. The circular ecosystem provides RPX’s proprietor Rebound, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-listed International Holding Company (IHC), the opportunity to facilitate the recycling of 5 million tonnes of plastic by 2025.
“We see Rebound as a part of the bigger solution to reduce plastic pollution at a global scale,” says CEO Maryam al-Mansoori. “Our aim is to create economic opportunities for all stakeholders involved in the value chain.”
Recognising the gap in the market for a local or regional trading hub for quality-assured recycled plastics led to the launch of Rebound. The company was officially set up with ADGM in December 2021, but efforts to develop an effective solution have been under way since September 2020.
“The platform was developed by speaking to governments and business stakeholders involved in addressing the issue,” explains Al-Mansoori. “Our goal was to firstly ensure quality, while also providing price transparency in an otherwise opaque market.”
RPX deploys inspectors and other specifications to ensure the quality of products traded through its platform and the legitimacy of buyers and sellers. In its next phases, the platform will further incorporate automated systems to verify product authenticity and quality.
The specifications are endorsed by industry membership association Recoup, a UK-based authority providing guidance on the plastics recycling value chain. Rebound is also associated with other industry memberships, which according to Al-Mansoori has allowed it to tap into advanced industry leaders.
“When we first started Rebound, it was merely a digital marketplace to facilitate trade,” says Al-Mansoori. “But the more we spoke with stakeholders, the more we realised that there are so many support services required for companies to actually fulfil their recycling business goals.”
Rebound is aligned with the Basel Convention’s 2019 amendments on plastics waste, which introduced new categories for hazardous and non-hazardous forms of plastic waste and the criteria necessary for transboundary movement.
Broadening the opportunity
While the number of registered stakeholders on the platform was not revealed, Al-Mansoori shares that members come from regions including the Middle East, North America, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia and Europe.
“We’re launching something from the UAE to the world, with the aim of addressing a global issue in a global language. We want buyers and sellers from across the world to come and participate.”
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The platform favours plastic bales, which Al-Mansoori says is because “it is the right thing to do for the environment”.
“By building a better bale, we keep the plastic out of the ocean and help developing countries move the plastic to countries with the capabilites to process these bales into plastic flakes and pellets.”
Buyers are free to control the logistics of the transaction. Rebound is currently in conversation with logistics providers and ports to provide freight rates to choose from.
Al-Mansoori remains cognisant of the rapidly changing environment surrounding plastics recycling and the circular economy in the UAE and globally.
“We know that both the opportunities and restrictions around plastics are evolving constantly,” she says. “And I think that’s where the digital nature of Rebound is really working in its favour.”
Lead image (Supplied): Maryam Al-Mansoori, CEO of Rebound
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