UK – The UK can become a world leader in the plastics recycling sector – ‘but we can only do that by changing some of our approach’, MBA Polymers’ Chief Executive Nigel Hunton told a recent recycling event at Westminster. He went on to suggest that the government should suspend VAT on recycled plastics ‘to help stimulate consumer demand and encourage investment’ in the UK recycling industry.
‘We currently lie behind leading European countries in terms of the recycling rates of post-consumer plastic waste, and in 2011 the UK performance was just over 20%,’ Mr Hunton observed. ‘Sweden, Norway, Germany and France were all above us.’ Though the challenge historically has been recycling plastics from complex waste streams, he pointed out technology enabling effective separation is already available on the UK market.
With only a few changes, such as switching the focus from burning for energy generation to ‘full recovery’, maximised recycling potential might be within the UK’s grasp. ‘We need auditing of ”downstream” overseas plastic waste processors, similar to domestic processors,’ asserted Mr Hunton.
‘We allow the export of plastics waste but it needs better and more vigorous enforcement and checking.’ There is also a need for ‘something to incentivise the market with legislation designed to encourage post-consumer recycled plastics content in new products, such as exemption or a reduced rate of VAT’, he said.
Such changes would accelerate recycling across the nation, thus providing a ‘win-win-win’ for society, the environment and recycled plastics businesses in the UK.
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