Report urges UK to triple recycling infrastructure to prevent plastic pollution

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The report consisted of 18 policy recommendations to develop a better plastics strategy

The UK needs to triple its recycling infrastructure and stop exporting waste, says a new report by think tank Policy Connect.

Launched today by cross party MPs in Westminster, Plastics Packaging Plan: Achieving Net Zero Waste Exports says the UK must urgently take back control of its share of the global plastics problem.

It called for government in introduce plastic waste legislation, following on from the Climate Change Act which set legally-binding targets on carbon budgets.

The report’s 18 policy recommendations included urging government to prevent exports of plastic waste by 2030, make packaging simpler and easier to recycle and developing a circular UK plastics plan policy.

Author of the report Jacob Ainscough said: “Our oceans and their marine life are in crisis. Bolder UK regulations on packaging waste must deliver zero-export in UK plastic packaging by 2030.

“Our market-based recommendations in this report are backed by cross-party and business support and show that our environment and economy have much to gain from a radical, circular national plastic policy.”

Under half of plastic packaging placed on the market in 2016 was collected for recycling.

Between 2010-17, the UK exported 4.15m tonnes of plastic packaging.

Recycling targets for plastic packaging set out by the Circular Economy Package are set at 55% by 2030, which the report recommended Defra should continue after it exits the European Union next month.

Speaking at the event launch, Nestlé’s head of value chain sustainability (UK&I) Andrew Griffiths said: “No one organisation can deliver promises on their own. We need to work across the value chain and working closely to make sure we get the right solutions.

“As we move forwards it’s really important that we keep focussing on design, but also working to create a functional system.”

Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change and previous environment secretary, warned against knee-jerk reactions.

He said: “Reintroducing the concept of incrementalism is crucially important and you have to ask some big questions before we make the simplest of actions. We have to do the things that are going to achieve the ends.

“The right policy roadmap can turn our plastic waste problem into an economic opportunity for the UK to lead the world in waste-processing, recycled plastic, and waste-to-energy innovation and jobs.”

Click here to view the full report.

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