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Latest phase of Plastics Pact ‘needs more on recyclability’

plastic waste

A new WRAP guide for businesses signed up to its Plastics Pact has been backed by recyclers, but has also drawn criticism for lacking detail on product design.

The UK Plastics Pact Roadmap to 2025 has been published to help the current 68 members of the initiative eliminate single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or reuse.

The Roadmap sets interim targets for increasing recycling and recycled content. but plastics recycler Vanden said it was concerned there was not enough in it on recyclability of materials.

Managing director David Wilson said much of the initiative was “very positive” but outlined some reservations.

“We want to see more detail on recyclability of packaging as this is the key to getting the whole recycling process right. We need to ensure that products are designed simply using one material so that sorting and recycling are easy. This also makes it easier for labelling for the consumer.”

Wilson is also concerned about the Pact’s backing for compostable plastics.

“We are already seeing more signs of increased use of compostable plastic packaging,” he said. “This has the impact of more contamination of existing plastic recycling streams, and the potential for these products to still contaminate the environment unless they are broken down in industrial composting processes.

“Compostable plastics will also make it more difficult to provide effective recycling messages to consumers by providing a product that will need them to sort it separately from existing plastics into a composting stream.”

The Recycling Association said the Roadmap was “an important milestone in UK plastics recycling”.

Chief executive Simon Ellin said: “This roadmap will make a significant difference to how plastics are recycled into new products within the UK.

“It should also help to increase the demand for recycled content in plastic packaging, while enabling the opportunity to create a supply line for high-quality recycled plastics.

“To achieve these goals will require significant investment to increase and improve UK collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure.”

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said: “I’m very impressed with progress made in the first six months since we launched the Pact. This is proving to be a powerful and motivated group. The Roadmap is a real opportunity for them to forge ahead and make change happen at scale, and in significant ways.

“But these targets cannot be delivered by business action alone. It needs policy intervention as well as consumers to play a part. Factors such as extended producer responsibility are going to have a profound influence on momentum, and effecting change in areas such as collections, recycling and reprocessing.”

  • Read an exclusive interview with WRAP director of government programmes Peter Maddox in the December issue of MRW, out soon

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