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Reform and expand

Replast 2013 will focus on driving manufacturing using recycled plastics and increasing the size of the UK plastics recycling industry and its market. Two speakers give MRW a preview of what is on the agenda

Keith Freegard, director of Axion Polymers, will speak on ‘increasing use of recycled plastic in products’ and will urge designers to think along more ‘circular’ lines to encourage greater use of recycled polymers. He believes product designers have an important role to play in making their clients aware of the potential benefits and savings that could result from specifying and including closed-loop recyclates at an early stage in the product development process

“Engaging with product specifiers and designers to make them recognise the clear environmental, economic and sustainable benefits of using recycled plastics is essential if we are to increase the uptake of recycled content in new items. This is vital if we are to realise the wider aims of sustainable manufacturing and the circular economy,” he says.

Freegard recognises that strong market drivers, such as resource scarcity, oil price volatility and growing consumer demand for sustainable products, as well as working within the pre-set design constraints presented by recycled polymers, are important factors.

Bernard Chase, Purchasing Director at REGAIN Polymers:

In common with all UK plastics reprocessors, Regain Polymers is finding the current market environment extremely challenging.

The last decade has seen virtually the entire growth in ‘Plastics Recycling’ achieved via the expedient of sales, largely to the Far East, of waste plastics rather than via the much more challenging and demanding route of reprocessing here in the UK.

Successive Governments have been largely acquiescent in this process, seeing it as an easy and largely cost efficient way for the waste management sector, rather than the manufacturing sector, to meet their steadily increasing European targets for plastics packaging waste recycling.

The advent of China’s ‘Green Fence’, coming as it did on the heels of the Government’s commitment to increase the UK’s plastics recycling targets by 5% per annum (a virtual doubling of the required tonnage), has therefore come as a bit of a shock and headache to one and all.

It is against this backdrop that I shall be focussing from the viewpoint of a Plastics Recycling business on the ‘View from the Coalface’ at the forthcoming BPF Replast event.

Among the issues to be covered will be the continuing iniquity of the current PRN/PERN system, its flawed and contradictory outcomes and the need, now being called for by almost every informed industry body, for urgent reform.

Coupled with this will be an examination of the pressing need to provide incentives to a resurgent manufacturing base to use recycled plastics in a far wider range of products than currently is the case.

Also on the agenda is the proposed ‘Carrier Bag Tax,’ a further kick in the teeth for the UK’s embattled plastic recyclers, with the possibility of degradable material entering the plastics waste stream posing a severe threat to the integrity of recycled plastics.

  • Replast 2013, the British Plastics Federation’s (BPF) sixth annual plastics recycling conference takes place at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London on November 6.

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