Plastic Waste Legislation. – MPs are calling for the “urgent” introduction plastic waste legislation, which follows the framework of the Climate Change Act, setting stricter and legally binding recycling targets, ahead of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) consultations.
Plastic Waste Legislation. – Policymakers must now accelerate the development of a “radical and circular” UK plastics plan which accounts for the increasing number of recycling market closures or sanctions being made by developing nations, due to the UK producing more than 3.3 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.
The ‘plastic packaging plan’ report calls on Ministers to implement a “bold national policy framework” for plastics, including a 2030 goal of achieving ‘net-zero’ plastic waste export status.
The report, by Policy Connect, claims this move would “boost domestic infrastructure investment, innovation and green jobs” while reducing the UK’s marine waste footprint.
Around 48% of all packaging recovery note (PRN) purchases by UK-based companies are believed to be made abroad, with recent research from the National Audit Office (NAO), stating that packaging exports have increased six-fold since 2002 to reach £50 million in 2017.
Money raised through these PRNs is invested in infrastructure improvements in nations which process the waste, but this funding would be better spent in bolstering the UK’s recycling capabilities ahead of Brexit, according to several campaign groups.
Policy Connect states the introduction of a ‘net-zero’ plastic export target could pave the way for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to introduce legally binding and gradually increasing targets for recycling levels.
Targets should span until 2035 or beyond, to give clarity and stability to investors and other plastic industry stakeholders.
The report also states:
“Getting plastic packaging out of the residual waste stream will require coordination across the whole value chain – from producers through to waste managers, with consumers playing their part”
“Long range, ambitious recycling targets are a key first step to ensure the whole value chain is working together.”
The UK rates for plastic packaging are stagnating between 38-45%, despite 99% of local authorities collect plastic bottles for kerbside recycling. Policy Connect believe the causes of this challenge are multifaceted and include customer confusion about differing on-pack recycling labels (OPRLs), a lack of unified sorting and collection systems and public “apathy” or distrust in local authorities, which are not currently required to set local-level recycling targets.
The report urges the Environment Agency (EA) to collaborate with the plastics industry to publish an “approved list” of recyclable materials and packaging formats to help combat this issue.