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Offsetting PRN obligation will drive demand

There is no magic bullet to catapult recycling levels to the Olympian heights dreamed of by Government and indeed recyclers themselves. This much is evident from the welter of draft Government policy documents and potential legislation currently up for public consultation.

Sitting alongside each other on the table are the European Commission’s Green Paper on Plastics Waste and DEFRA’s proposed rationalisation of the Producer Responsibility system. They were joined yesterday by comments from Local Authority chiefs saying that they will not be able to unlock the value of the UK’s waste without more investment from Government.

Yet one practical step forwards which could bear early and significant fruit was promoted this week by the British Plastics Federation’s Recycling Group. Their focus is on making it financially worthwhile for companies to incorporate plastics recyclate in their products. The Group is mindful that the recent revision of packaging recycling targets left the plastics sector with a hefty rate of 42% to recycle by 2017, in other words an extra 0.5 million tonnes.

They are also painfully conscious that much of the packaging recycling already achieved has been accomplished on the back of exports of used plastics to the Far East and that now China is clamping down on waste imports.

The key incentive, in the Group’s view, should be to allow companies to offset their PRN obligation with the quantity of recycled polymers they specify and used, This would drive demand which in turn would stimulate investment and help us move closer to a ‘circular economy’. A message to the Government – ‘listen to the people who cut the hay’. 

Philip Law, public & industrial affairs director for British Plastics Federation

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