Recycling of non-drink packaging needs to be transformed to meet circular economy aims, say RECOUP

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According to an investigation by RECOUP into the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS) in the UK, it believes that the collection and recycling of non-drink packaging still needs to be transformed to meet future circular economy ambitions. 

The study looked at the structure and operations behind the headlines for the German and Norwegian DRS’s. It also explored the rate of collection, materials collected, the deposit paid back to consumers, and the infrastructure in place to allow a comparison between the two schemes.  

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RECOUP technical manager Steve Morgan said: “We are keen to explore what a DRS could mean for the UK. This led us to produce the case study of the two widely known schemes and to show some of the differences that exist between them. These are undoubtedly very effective schemes for collecting and recycling drinks containers, but it shouldn’t be lost that drinks as well as non-drinks packaging need to be collected and recycled to meet future Circular Economy ambitions and the proposed recycling rates set out in the Government consultations.” 

The organisation said that a DRS will produce high-quality material of post-use drinks containers, but it should not be seen as “the only solution to reach high of plastic packaging collection levels”. 

It believes that if a DRS is introduced in the UK, it needs to be created to complement existing and developing collection infrastructure for all post-consumer packaging: kerbside, bring, Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and ‘Away from Home’ collection points, including high footfall locations such as workplaces, transport hubs, and ‘On-the-Go’ locations. 

As well as opportunities to develop systems, a consumer behaviour change, education and communication programme about what and how to recycle should be delivered alongside any revised consistency in household and business recycling collections, said RECOUP. 

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