The government could legislate to enforce output standards for material recycling facilities (MRFs), according to Lord Taylor of Holbeach, parliamentary under secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.
He told attendees at Recoup's ‘Understanding the plastics packaging journey' conference: “A draft code is in circulation at the moment and there is a possibility that it could be made mandatory. If that were to happen a consultation will take place this summer,” he explained.
The minister went on to say that the recently revised recycling targets were necessary in order to ensure growth in the sector.
“The government is committed to more plastics recycling – there's a carbon saving to be made as well as an improvement to the UK's resource efficiency. This will provide an opportunity for UK plc to develop the technologies needed by the global recycling industry.
“There's also an opportunity to develop plastics recyclate in packaging applications,” he added. “Key to all this is innovative thinking. There's also a need to recognise the interlocking parts of the recycling chain and to make every step easy.
“The collection of plastics will require a sense of a shared objective across the chain – there are benefits for everyone. We need to think of partnerships going forward.”
He did, however, admit that the Government needed to help achieve its recycling targets.
“Tell residents what happens to their recycling,” he suggested. That way you can “peak people's interests and help to increase buy into the process”.
Lord Holbeach pointed to plastic bottle as a benchmark for plastics recycling. “Past [processing] difficulties with bottle recycling have been overcome – this needs to be done for other plastic waste types,” he explained, adding: “Over half a million tonnes of plastic are used each year to provide us with bottles for drinks, shampoo and kitchen cleaners, yet half of this ends up at the dump.
“The vast majority of these bottles could easily be recycled and this shocking waste is costing the economy millions of pounds. I want to see a major push to end this sorry state, with businesses, councils and householders all doing their bit to address the problem.”