The Recycling Event roundup

Written by: Paul Sanderson | Published:
The Recycling Event brought together a whole host of associations across the industry

While The Recycling Event covered many topical and complex issues, the key lesson running through them all was that there needs to be collaboration across the supply chain.

Indeed, the whole premise of this major conference was that nine recycling trade associations combined to develop the programme.

Delegates attended from the recycling and waste sector, from major and SME retailers, from manufacturing and from local government. It became obvious in the presentations that all of these sectors want to work with others to understand their needs, particularly in order to respond to the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Ben Thomas, environment manager at Waitrose & Partners, spoke in the A Design for Lifecycle Theatre about how the supermarket is reducing its plastic packaging. It was clear in his presentation how it is working with its supply chain to increase the amount of own-label packaging that is reuseable, home compostable or easily recyclable to 100% by 2023. Currently this is at 85%.

He also discussed progress with its Unpacked trial at a store in Oxford, which encourages customers to reuse packaging by offering refills of key products. Thomas outlined the challenges involved in this, while also revealing that it had proved to be really popular with customers so far. Feedback from customers is now helping to inform the trial.

Industry collaboration

Laure Cucuron, general manager for TerraCycle Europe, presented on the work the plastics recycler is doing with retailers and manufacturers to bring back material for recycling. But she also looked at how it is working with supermarkets including Tesco, Carrefour, and major food and cosmetics manufacturers to develop a closed loop reusable packaging service for customers. It has already launched in Paris and is expected to have a UK trial later this year.

Also on the theme of collaboration, Tegos Group chief executive Jason Fazackerley gave a presentation in the Delivery Theatre on how the fourth Industrial Revolution will enable us to maximise our resource use. Using technologies such as data science and the Internet of Things will enable better understanding of how our resources can be utilised most efficiently.

Hubbub chief executive Trewin Restorick followed Fazackerley with a look at how councils can maximise recycling rates, with particular emphasis on the #LeedsByExample campaign. It aims to inspire the local community to make small manageable changes to their habits. This has helped to increase recycling rates while also using clever and innovative messaging to appeal to the public.

Changing human behaviour was also a theme outlined by Emma Beal, managing director of West London Waste Authority. Her presentation, in the Environment: For Love or Money Theatre, took Fazackerley’s theme and analysed how the authority used data to maximise recycling and communicate this with the public. Initiatives also included testing a deposit return scheme at Twickenham Stadium and removing single-use packaging at a Sky campus in Brentford.

Roberts Bakery managing director Stuart Spencer-Calnan outlined the efforts his company is making to make bread packaging more recyclable. Although he recognised that this requires taking steps and waiting for innovation to make the packaging fully recyclable, Spencer-Calnan also raised the importance of working with retailers and recycling industry experts to understand the requirements of both.

Peter Maddox, director of WRAP, reported on defining recycled content as part of the UK Plastics Pact and the progress made on that.

Ekman Recycling managing director Pankaj Chowdhary discussed how China’s reduced imports of recovered paper opens up opportunities for other destinations. But he also said that there is a capacity gap between what China had previously taken, and the ability of other countries’ mills to take the extra material available to them.

Capacity solutions

Looking at plastics, Indigo Environmental director of recovery and recycling Paul Rendle-Barnes spoke about how there is increasing demand for UK plastics recycling infrastructure and how his company is responding to it with investment.

Later that day Ecosurety’s business development manager Alice Flavin assessed the recent volatility in the PRN market, which was also related to how plastic recyclers are benefitting from high PRN prices at present.

The Recycling Event also featured a table-top exhibition area. Feedback from exhibitors was that they generally had good conversations with the high quality of delegates in attendance. Exhibitors included Ace UK, Valpak, Ekman Group, Smurfit Kappa, Newport Recycling, Smart Solutions, Fred, Futur First, Prismm Environmental, Cryptocycle, Green Edge Applications, CIWM and Ecosurety. Recycling and Waste World also had a stand as a media partner of the conference.

The conference supported charity WasteAid – it was given a free stand, an opportunity for its head of programmes and engagement Zoë Lenkiewicz to outline its efforts in developing countries, and £5 was donated from each ticket sold.

Trade associations backing The Recycling Event were The Recycling Association, Alupro, Confederation of Paper Industries, Resource Association, RECOUP, British Glass, Wood Recyclers Association, Incpen and British Metals Recycling Association. Their contributions helped to make The Recycling Event a great success in its first year.

Paul Sanderson is one of the event organisers of The Recycling Event, which took place on 2 July 2019 at Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

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