According to Axion Polymers, Brexit offers opportunities for the UK and its manufacturers to secure their raw material supplies from a stable domestic market and generate the circularity of materials.
The plastics recycler has suggested that potential problems in transporting materials across borders post-Brexit, should become a driver for growth in the domestic market as purchasers aim to reduce inward material supply chain risk.
Axion director Roger Morton said that freedom from regulatory controls and external policies coupled with the ability to set our own rules, could encourage greater investment and allow the UK to “get ahead of the rest of Europe” in material recovery and resource security, given that there is a strong Government leadership.
He added: “Brexit is inevitable now. Although complications could arise, we are taking a positive approach. British companies should focus on the opportunity that leaving the EU offers and how we can make the most of our resource sustainable position.”
The director made the point that with annual consumption of plastic at 12 million tonnes, and annual arisings at 11.5 million tonnes, the market could be much more “circular” than the existing export of scrap/import of finished products models.
Although material quality controls should remain “mirrored with Europe”, such as REACH regulations, he suggested that there could be an opportunity to “take the lead by designing and implementing a set of regulatory measures that drive the transition to a circular economy here”.
These measures could involve producer responsibility commitments for brands that make the most effort to change to fully recyclable designs or use high amounts of recycled content.
A long-term benefit of Brexit, said the director, should be that we can stop mass exports of waste plastic packaging and WEEE and begin investing in the recycling infrastructure in the UK. There is also the opportunity for the UK Government to drive the development of recycling demonstration and pilot “pathfinder” plants once we are free of “state aid” regulations that stop preferential treatment by Governments.
He added: “UK businesses need to wake up to these future possibilities and start talking to suppliers like us that can offer a secure supply of material. It’s competitive on price, performs to the same standard as virgin material – and it’s low carbon.
“We’ve seen an increase in enquiries in recent months and there’s a lot of interest from UK manufacturers in what we can offer. Despite current uncertainty around Brexit, we remain upbeat about the opportunities to trigger more material moving within the circular economy in the UK.”