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Plastics industry sets out recycling strategy

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has set out a strategy to minimise the export of plastic scrap from the UK over the coming decade. Its Recycling Roadmap calls for more domestic processing and a big growth in chemical recycling.

The BPF, which represents a large proportion of the plastics sector, believes the UK can achieve recycling rates by 2030 of up to 65% for all plastics and 75% for plastic packaging. The report argues that exports of plastic waste could more than halve over the same period and the UK could eliminate its current reliance on low-quality exports.

In addition to investment in UK recycling systems, the report calls for:

  • common plastic waste collection schemes across all local authorities
  • kerbside collection of flexible packaging
  • more recycled material in new products
  • better communication with the public about what can be recycled

New technologies would also be needed, the BPF argues, and it estimates that chemical recycling and other new methods working at scale could increase the amount of material processed in by 60 times. The roadmap includes a list of companies using advanced, non-mechanical recycling technologies looking to establish capacity in the UK.

The BPF notes that the construction, automotive, electrical and electronics, household, sports and leisure, and agriculture sectors use more plastic than goes into packaging and is suggesting recycling schemes for a wider range of products.

Philip Law, director-general of the BPF, called for a collaborative effort to develop relevant technology and infrastructure. ‘Drastically reducing our reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and the amount of plastic waste going to landfill is achievable and this roadmap shows how,’ he says.

‘Most importantly, there needs to be significant investment in increasing UK recycling capacity. Data within the report shows that the amount of overall plastic being recycled has grown by 150% since 2006. Over the same period, plastic going into landfill has reduced by 70%, so the UK has a track record of progress to build upon.’

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