Manufacturers must increase the amount of recycled plastic contained in bottles and packaging to meet environmental targets and consumer expectations, says Veolia.
Most consumers want at least 50% recycled content in their drinks bottles and are prepared to pay more for it, according to a report from Veolia and plastics recycling charity Recoup.
Some 93% of those surveyed expect plastic bottles to contain recycled material, and 51% of consumers said they would pay an extra 2.5p for bottles containing recycled material.
The report Plan For Plastics put forward three proposals to improve plastics environmental performance. These included simplifying the recycling process, standardising packaging and increasing the use of recycled content in new products.
Veolia UK and Ireland chief technology and innovation officer Richard Kirkman said: “The British public have told us they expect plastic bottles to be made of recycled content.
“We see 50% recycled content for plastic bottles and 30% for plastic packaging as realistic ambitions for every manufacturer to aim for within the next 10 years.
“When more packaging is both recyclable and made from recycled material, it will be the shift needed for recycled plastic to become mainstream.”
He added: “Plastic packaging can be complex but increasing recycling rates can be simple. Veolia is in a unique position [as we hold] a bird’s eye view over the end-to-end plastic recycling process. In this report with industry expert Recoup, we recommend three clear ways for the UK to become a champion of plastic recycling, both environmentally and economically, setting the standard for the next decade.”
Recoup chief exectuive Stuart Foster said: “There is more focus on plastic and sustainability than ever before, and that needs to be matched with action and progress.
“With circular economy and extended producer responsibility currently under debate, this is the ideal time to acknowledge the key issues and challenge current thinking.”
The survey included 2,000 consumers, 55% of whom thought that most of a plastic bottle should be made from recycled content. Currently such bottles and packaging only use around 15% of recycled content.
There is a similar gap in consumer expectation and reality when it comes to where recycling is carried out. Of the plastics material collected during a nine-month period last year, 66% was exported for recycling. Yet 87% of people surveyed thought the majority of plastic bottles should be recycled in the UK.