We ask: What should the next steps be following the public’s response to the Government’s ‘call for evidence’ on plastics?
We are delighted that the public is behind greater recycling of plastic and as an industry we are committed to working collaboratively with Treasury to make this a reality. A plastic tax will have the biggest impact when it is aimed at production and manufacturing and we are pleased to see that the Treasury is looking at how to encourage greater use of recycled plastic at the start of the waste cycle.
It is simply wrong to compare recycling as an alternative to Energy from Waste (EfW) and any suggestion that a tax on incineration will improve recycling is misguided. The reality is that EfW is a much-needed alternative to landfill for waste which cannot be recycled.
As an industry we don’t want plastic going to our EfW plants and we invest heavily in recycling as much as practically possible, recovering energy from what is left behind. The Treasury should recognise the valuable role of EfW in putting waste that we cannot recycle to further use, and use tax effectively to target those who manufacture non-recyclable plastic.
A Plastic Planet
The public have spoken and we are asking our elected Government to show real leadership now. That means much more than a tokenist tax on unrecyclable plastic or a bottle deposit scheme. After a year of noise throughout the UK we need proper action rather than a sticking plaster approach.
The facts are now out there. Only 9% of our plastic is recycled in the UK. The only answer is to use less of this indestructible material in the first place and turn off the plastic tap. It must start with a dramatic reduction in the use of plastic to package our food and drink. We must incentivise those brands that are going plastic free.
Those who continue to use plastic must be taxed heavily and that revenue ring fenced to build a waste management infrastructure that is relevant for today, not our plastic yesterday. Recycling, or what is actually always downcycling, plastic is not the answer.
Eventually all plastic ends up in our environment. We have a rare moment in time where everyone is in agreement, we need to turn off the plastic tap. Do not let this moment go to waste with compromised measures.
Chief Technology and Innovation Officer
Veolia UK & Ireland
We all want to increase the amount the UK recycles and a simple tax incentive could be used to encourage recyclable materials and designs for products and discourage the use of harder to recycle options such as black plastic and polystyrene yogurt pots.
As a collector, sorter, re-processor and seller of recycled plastics Veolia appreciates the dynamics at play and other important measures will also help. These include clearer labelling, a simple green dot for example, so consumers know what can be easily recycled, a revision of the existing Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system to remove the advantage given to export, and a simple deposit return system for plastic
and aluminium cans.
The setting of ambitions targets, such as a minimum percentage of recycled content in packaging, will ensure plastic recycling increases dramatically over the next five
years to ensure a more circular and sustainable future.