Recycled plastic could supply nearly three quarters of UK demand

14th June 2018 | Recycling

Recycled plastic could supply nearly three-quarters of the raw materials needed by UK manufacturers for products and packaging, according to a report. Steps such as bringing in mandatory targets for recycled content in products, short-term subsidies and funding to stabilise prices could help develop a system that sees waste plastic collected and reused in the UK, it said.

The UK, where government policy focuses just on recycling targets, currently only collects a third of its plastic waste for recycling and sends two thirds of that abroad to be processed, with no guarantee they will be recycled.

In total, only 9 per cent of all plastics are recycled domestically, according to a report by Green Alliance for leading business group the Circular Economy Task Force. But developing a stronger market in the UK for the plastic that is collected could encourage an additional two million tonnes of plastic to be recycled here.

Recycled plastics

That could provide 71 per cent of the raw material needed by UK manufacturers for plastic packaging and products, with benefits for the environment and the economy, the report said. Libby Peake, senior adviser on resources at Green Alliance, said, “If the UK wants to lead the world in addressing the global scourge of the plastic pollution, that means creating a circular economy at home that allows us to turn discarded plastics back into new products. Just collecting plastic and shipping it abroad doesn’t solve the problem.”

The report also warned that while the UK wanted to be a world leader in electric vehicles and renewables, the country was 100 per cent dependent on imports for key components of the technologies, such as cobalt and rare earth elements.

Standards for recycled content, using public procurement to favour manufacturers which use recovered materials and ensuring car batteries are reused for static battery storage could help with the problem.

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