MBA Polymers, the world-leading multinational plastics recycling company, today called on the Government to suspend VAT on recycled plastics to help stimulate consumer demand and encourage investment in the UK’s plastics recycling industry.
The call was made at a presentation (*1) at Portcullis House, Westminster at an event entitled ‘The future of recycling –The challenge for plastics’. Around 100 politicians, environmental groups and major plastics-users attended the presentation. MBA Polymers Chief Executive, Nigel Hunton, commented, “Plastics recycling is a big opportunity for UK plc. We currently lie behind leading European countries in terms of the recycling rates of post-consumer plastic waste and in 2011 the UK performance was just over 20%.
Sweden, Norway, German and France were all above us.”(*2) MBA operates the world’s largest and most advanced recycling facility of post-consumer plastics at Worksop, Nottinghamshire. The Worksop plant started production at the end of 2010, represents an investment of around £30 million and employs around 100 staff. “The UK can become a world leader in this sector,” continued Hunton, “but we can only do that by changing some of our approach. Recycled plastics are a resource – not a waste product.
There is the potential for major environmental and economic benefit such as attracting new jobs and investment to the UK, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and providing a competitive advantage for the UK through ‘green marketing’ and innovative technology.
The challenge historically has been recycling plastics from complex waste streams, but the technology now exists in the UK to allow effective separation.We also support the EU Environment Commissioner in welcoming reductions on incineration – switching from burning for energy generation to ‘full recovery’ – maximizing recycling potential.
Our view is that we only need to do a few things differently in the future.First, we need a level playing field. We need auditing of ‘downstream’ overseas plastic waste processors, similar to domestic processors. We allow the export of plastics waste but it needs better and more vigorous enforcement and checking.Second, we need something to incentivise the market with legislation designed to encourage post-consumer recycled plastics content in new products, such as exemption or a reduced rate of VAT.
These changes can accelerate recycling in the UK and provide a win-win-win for society, the environment and recycled plastics businesses in the UK.”The other speakers at the event were the Director of Cambridge University’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership (*3), Polly Courtice, who spoke of the importance of business action in relation to sustainability and Dr Mike Biddle, MBA’s Founder and President.Mike has won numerous accolades over the last few years but most recently in Dec 2012 he was awarded the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development, sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for the Environment. Previous winners of the Award were Al Gore, Kofi Annan & Gro Harlem Brundtland – the former President of Norway.
Mike spoke about the global challenge of ‘closing-the-loop’. “In comparison with nature’s eco-cycle in which waste products are of value in new processes, society’s mostly one-way use of plastics is unsustainable”, he explained. “It’s believed that only 10 per cent of plastics in the world are recycled. Raw materials are converted into products and eventually become disused, leading to resource shortage and energy waste. Entrepreneurship and new innovative solutions are required to break this trend and instead create functioning eco-cycles”.
The presentations at Westminster were followed by a lively question and answer session.“We thought this was so powerful “, continued Hunton, “that we’ll be posting those Q&A’s on our website as they help explain many of the challenges that we face. In addition, many attendees expressed an interest in seeing the Worksop plant for themselves and we hope to arrange an Open Day in the not too distant future”.