The plastics recycling industry needs to shift its focus from collection to reuse, and from exports to the domestic market, said the British Plastics Federation (BPF).
The federation suggested in a paper that the UK should introduce the principle of “offset against obligation” within the producer responsibility regime as an incentive to increase the use of recycled polymers in the UK.
Under the proposed mechanism producers would be able to offset their PRN obligation by specifying and using recycled polymers. The recycled polymers would not carry any obligation under the EU packaging directive, unlike virgin polymers.
The BPF said the new strategy could contribute to shifting the focus of the plastics industry from collection to the reuse and reduce the reliance on international markets.
It said the industry’s waste strategy to date concentrated what it called ‘push factors’; how to encourage the collection of waste. Strong global markets have underpinned this approach.
But the BPF called into question the sustainability of these global markets. These have recently been suffering under the Green Fence crackdown, for example.
The federation said it “believes that we must now concentrate on the ‘pull’ factors; in other words the further development of existing markets and the creation of new applications and uses for recycled plastics”.
It said that the mechanism they proposed would be simple to administer and neutral in terms of costs for the UK Government.
Roger Baynham, chairman of the BPF Recycling Group, 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.”
- UK plastics chiefs have claimed the existing PRN/PERN system has provided an unfair advantage to the exporters of plastic scrap over domestic reprocessors.