Giving new life to plastic trash is what gets Carlos Bento out of bed each day
But the crisis has caused revenues to drop by up to 40 percent at Micronipol, the large recycling facility he runs in central Portugal.
His company produces polyethylene, the base for plastic bags and bottles
The product is piling up at its warehouses as clients shelve their recycling goals.
They're now opting for cheaper non-recycled alternatives.
"If we are no longer competitive and if we lose cash, as in any other company in the market, we have two options: either someone has to subsidise us so we can keep working or we have to shut down."
As restrictions were put in place worldwide, a drop in demand for oil pushed prices to historic lows.
This made virgin plastics - already becoming cheaper than the recycled alternative - even more affordable
This could spell disaster for the future of European recyclers like Micronipol
Industry group Plastic Recyclers Europe said firms in most EU member states have signalled their recycling facilities have drastically reduced their operations for at least a few months.
The European Environment Bureau is calling for a tax to be slapped on all virgin plastics to eliminate the price gap.
Europe generates around 26 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, but less than 30 % of that is collected for recycling
And as countries struggle to cope with the economic impact of the health crisis, fears abound that environmental policies are being left behind.
Experts say existing targets to improve plastic recycling could now be in danger of not being met.