The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has launched on May 30 a new proposal that aims “To encourage and incentivize the use of recycled plastics in UK manufacturing”.
The paper has its origins in the BPF’s Recycling Group (BPFRG) and its principles are shared across the whole Federation. The proposal sets out the importance of securing end markets for recyclate to achieve a sustainable green economy.
In 2012, UK Government announced its aspiration to be the “greenest ever” and set challenging recycling targets for the period to 2017. In respect of plastics packaging this will mean that in excess of an extra 0.5 million tons will need to be recycled which, effectively, represents a recycling rate of 42%.
Despite the success of recycling of certain waste streams such as plastics bottles, packaging recycling targets have been largely achieved to date by the export of plastic waste. There is however uncertainty about the sustainability of export markets, in particularly China, which is clamping down on low quality material. Another issue is the inequality of the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN)/Packaging Export Recovery Note (PERN) system which creates no incentive to remove contamination prior to export, giving exports an advantage against UK reprocessing.
The BPF think it necessary to create incentives to drive investment in recycling and UK manufacturing to increase usage of recycled polymers. The proposal recommends the principle of “offset” against obligation under the concept of “producer responsibility” in the waste sectors.
The main producers and manufacturers, packer/fillers, and retailers should, in the BPF’s view, be able to offset their PRN obligation by using and specifying recycled polymers. In this way, recycled polymers would not carry any obligation under the EU Packaging Directive.
Roger Baynham, Chairman of the BPFRG said, “We believe that the proposals contained in this paper will provide the much needed traction to develop end markets for recycled plastics which are so crucial given the uncertainties of the global waste markets and, in doing so, help deliver the UK Government’s business development, wealth creation and sustainability agendas.”