Report outlines measures to deliver increased use of post-consumer recycled materials 

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Policy measures to deliver increased use of post-consumer recycled materials (PCR) in the UK economy has been outlined in a new report from Eunomia Research and Consulting. 

The report entitled Demand Recycled: Policy Options for Increasing the Demand for Post-Consumer Recycled Materials, has been commissioned by the Resource Association and WWF-UK and sets out ideas on the likely effectiveness of various policy interventions.  

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It also answers the growing need for detail on potential policy measures in the implementation stage of the Resources and Waste Strategy for England.   

The report reviews approaches used to date to improve recycling, the causes of market failure, and considers a range of potential policy measures to enhance the market for recycled material.  

It investigates a short list of four types of policies to increase demand: 

  • Materials taxation 
  • A fee-rebate system (‘feebate’) 
  • Tradable credits 
  • The establishment of a single Producer Responsibility organisation.  

It recommends consideration of a ‘feebate’ system as the most attractive policy option, and rejects materials taxation based on the complexity of delivery.  

Eunomia believe that the ‘feebate’ scheme would comprise a levy on all packaging which is refunded to organisations who show their use of PCR through the number of certified credits they hold.  

The system is favoured due to its versatility in design, the reduce administrative complexity relative to the tax-based measure, and the stability of the incentives.  

It also suggests that a single compliance scheme or organisation for producer responsibility would be complementary to any policy option used to increased demand for PRC. 

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson said: “All parts of the resources supply chain for too long have talked in general terms about the need to boost demand for recycled material and use demand-pull measures to develop the markets to assist in reaching higher recycling targets.   

“This report now adds a real level of detail to this discussion with some much-needed fresh thinking.  The Resource Association was delighted to collaborate with WWF-UK in commissioning this work from Eunomia as a contribution to the wider, detailed debate that is now needed.”  

WWF-UK head of marine policy Lyndsey Dodd said: “Our oceans are choking on plastic, 90% of the world’s sea birds have fragments of plastic in their stomach. Despite the public outcry, more products are being made with virgin, or new, plastic than with recycled plastic. 

“A new system is needed – where a levy on all packaging is used to reward those using the most recycled material – to incentivise the use of recycled material and support the target announced in the budget for a minimum of 30% recycled plastic in products. Nature is on life support, and we must act now to save it. “ 

Eunomia chairman and primary author of the report Dominic Hogg said: “New challenges on resource use require new thinking and new collaborations.  I was delighted to be commissioned by WWF-UK and the Resource Association to conduct this analysis and it is good to see productive NGO and industry co-operation on shared concerns. 

“As the Treasury considers its proposal for a tax on plastics, with consideration of exemptions for materials with high recycled content, we believe this type of mechanism should be a strong candidate for consideration as it combines a few with an incentive to use PCR.”

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