Leading UK plastics recycler Vanden Recycling has said that the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan has sensible suggestions for developing UK plastics recycling.
Vanden Recycling UK managing director David Wilson said: “It is great that the Prime Minister is looking at the issues around plastics recycling. I welcome the sensible suggestions put forward in this 25-year Environment Plan.
“However, as recently calculated by us, 350,000 tonnes of material that was once exported to China will struggle to find a home in 2018. I hope the Government’s commitment to plastic recycling will now lead to more solutions in the short-term to stimulate plastic recycling in the UK, and ensure material is of high quality for export to recycling facilities abroad.
“If it takes 25 years to reach some of these aims, that will be too long for the development of an economically sustainable plastics recycling sector in the UK.”
In particular, Vanden Recycling welcomes Government proposals that include:
- An emphasis on local material collections that return high quality materials back to the economy
- A commitment to stimulating internal UK markets for recycled products, but also recognising the importance of strong secondary material export markets
- A proposal to work with industry to rationalise packaging formats to make sure that more plastics can be easily recycled and the quality of collected recycled plastics is improved
- The idea of reforming producer responsibility systems, including packaging waste regulations, to incentivise producers to take more responsibility including creating a better market for recycled plastic.
David Wilson added: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised the importance of plastic recycling, and are encouraged that it wishes to work with the waste management industry and plastic reprocessors to increase the proportion of plastic packaging that is collected and recycled.
“While the Government’s proposals are encouraging, there are some such as former ASDA chief executive Andy Clarke, that are suggesting supermarkets should not use plastics for packaging. He’s mixing that with a message that could be seen as anti-recycling and that could backfire. The Government would be wise to ignore advice that inhibits recycling innovation and enterprise.
“Plastic can be an ideal packaging material that prevents wastage of food and products and we are encouraged that the Government recognises the importance of both recycling and lifecycle analysis in its plan.
“However, while a commitment to accelerating research and development in plastics and plastic recycling is welcomed, we would be concerned if this led to development of more biodegradable plastics that could contaminate the existing plastic recycling streams.”