Recycled plastic ‘could supply three-quarters of UK demand’

The Green Alliance and Circular Economy Task Force say the government should be developing secondary material markets

By Jonny Bairstow

Recycled plastic could potentially supply nearly three-quarters of the UK’s products and packaging demand if the government helped support a more circular economy.

That’s according to a new report from the Green Alliance and Circular Economy Task Force, which shows the government could be developing secondary material markets encouraging an additional two million tonnes of plastic to be recycled in the UK each year.

It says the UK currently exports two-thirds of plastic collected for recycling and only recycles 9% of all plastics domestically.

The report suggests the government is too focused on recycling targets, which it claims push material into the waste management system without developing a market for the plastic collected, leading to a waste of valuable resources and serious pollution problems.

It recommends three new measures to make sure more plastic can be pulled back into manufacturing – introducing mandatory recycled content requirements for all plastic products and packaging, supporting the plastic reprocessing market and creating a market stabilisation fund to de-risk investment in the sector.

Dr Colin Church, Chair of the Circular Economy Task Force, said: “There are currently some significant failures, in resource terms, in the way plastics are used and managed at the end of life stage.

Tackling this will require action from all of us – designers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and resource managers. The resource and waste management sector is more than ready to play its part but it cannot act alone.”

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