The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has called for the implementation of incentives to boost investment in recycling and greater use of recycled polymers by UK manufacturers.
A white paper published by the BPF's Recycling Group (BPFRG) has recommended what it called “the principle of ‘offset' against obligation under the concept of ‘producer responsibility'” in the waste sectors.
The BPF said it believed that producers, manufacturers, packers, fillers and retailers “should be able to offset their Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PRN) obligation by using and specifying recycled polymers”.
This would mean recycled polymers would not have to carry any obligation under the European Union Packaging Directive, the BPF argued.
As export markets for the UK's waste plastics looked to limit the amount of material coming in – notably China's ‘green fence' – it was more important than ever to drive investment in recycling facilities closer to home, the industry said.
Roger Baynham, chairman of the BPFRG, said: “We believe that the proposals contained in this paper will provide the much needed traction to develop end markets for recycled plastics which are so crucial given the uncertainties of the global waste markets and, in doing so, help deliver the UK government's business development, wealth creation and sustainability agendas.”
Others argued that time was “running out” for the implementation of measures which would enable the country's waste and recycling sectors to meet the government's recycling targets.
Chris Dow, managing director of East London-based Closed Loop Recycling, said UK packaging firms were subsidising the export of valuable recyclate, which ought to be returning to UK packaging and then back to then shelves of UK retailers.
“Legislation needs to change to rectify this. We and our industry colleagues have spent considerable amounts of time in the last few years lobbying government, responding to consultations and supporting various reviews from the environment department.
“We have been encouraged by all this interest and commitment from government but we are concerned that the required corrections and improvements to waste regulation will not be achieved by the end of this current year's legislative programme.
“After that time, we'll be entering General Election territory and who knows what will happen then.”