U.K. pivots to plastic recycling market development

U.K. pivots to plastic recycling market development

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The British Plastics Federation says more incentives are needed for manufacturers to use recycled plastics in the U.K., rather than exporting them.

In a new report, the BPF says that while the overall plastic recycling rate of 32 percent in the U.K. is impressive, its growth over the past seven years has largely been the result of increased exports of material. An analysis of packaging recovery notes (PRNs) versus packaging export recovery notes (PERNs) shows the former essentially flat over the past several years, while PERNs have more than doubled. Much of this can be attributable to the low cost of labor and lax environmental regulations in East Asian countries, but due to the recent crackdown on imports of scrap plastic by Chinese officials, also known as Operation Green Fence, the report raises serious doubts about the long-term viability of the export market.

The BPF says the plastics recycling sector must now shift from incentivizing collection to incentivizing the development of markets for recycled plastics within the U.K.

"Recycling can only happen when there are markets for the recycled materials," reads the report, "therefore such a strategy would not only future-proof plastic recycling by creating such sustainable markets but would boost innovation and create new jobs and wealth. All this is made possible through a dynamic plastics manufacturing sector predicated on using recycled plastics."

One proposal outlined in the report would allow packaging producers to offset their collection obligation with recycled content used in the production of new plastic products.

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