Resource Use

Industry calls for action ahead of Global Recycling Day

Global Recycling Day is organised by the Global Recycling Foundation. It features a variety of events and campaigns around the world. In London, the Global Recycling Day team will create a demonstration using bundles of recycled materials on Carnaby Street between noon and 4pm. This year, a few organisations are using the date in the calendar to address key issues in the waste management industry. Such as DRS schemes and the Plastic Pollution Tax.

DRS vending machineThe BMRA on DRS

The BMRA has said this week that the UK’s two differing DRS could increase demand for plastic and are using Global Recycling Day as a point in time to hold the government to account. The warning comes as England and Wales are still working to decide how an all-in scheme would operate.

Antonia Grey, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the BMRA, said: “The deposit returns schemes are inherently a good thing to encourage further recycling thereby reducing our reliance on primary materials.

“However, aluminium cans already have a convenient kerbside home collection and with recycling rates as high as they are, it would be interesting to see what the impact would be. For example, in 2021, Alupro reported that four in five (82 per cent) beverage cans were recycled, making this the most recycled beverage packaging type in the UK.

“Recycling aluminium cans in the UK is an efficient closed-loop system. We agree with concerns presented by other Associations and industries, that it could add additional pollution to a system already working. In addition, given the cost-of-living crisis, would people pay more for their cans of drink versus a bigger bottle?”

A key issue in the proposals is that the deposit is 20p no matter the size of the container. BMRA suggests one way to avoid this could be to introduce a variable-rate DRS. This model is already proving successful in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Under the so-called Nordic Model, a varying deposit is levied on drinks containers based on size and material, rather than a single flat rate.

Ecoveritas on the UK Plastic Packaging Tax

Meanwhile, ahead of Global Recycling Day, Ecoveritas is asking for clarity from the government on the destination of hundreds of millions of pounds raised from the UK Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT).

The consultancy says that the government is on track to take £250 million from the tax – which cost £20 million to administer – but the Treasury says the funds will not be ringfenced for recycling because it needs ‘flexibility to manage public finances’.

Ecoveritas says the money should be used to invest in closed-loop recycling infrastructure to meet the rising demand for recycled material, with Josh Corradi-Remi, Ecoveritas’ Commercial Manager, saying: “At the very least, businesses that have invested in compliance to pay these taxes or invested heavily in new equipment and processes that contribute to a closed-loop recycling infrastructure should be informed about how hundreds of millions in new revenues will be used.

“If we’re taking waste management as seriously as the government’s rhetoric would have you believe, then funnelling money into waste management to increase the number of processing facilities, funding the development of new recycling technologies, and facilitating the UK’s move to ban plastic waste exports by 2027, should be a no brainer. We should be scaling up to cater for the requirement to process all waste domestically and supporting efforts to reduce and reuse more plastics.”

TIPA on the benefits of composting ahead of Global Recycling Day

Maker of compostable packaging TIPA is also using Global Recycling Day as an opportunity to highlight the importance of compostables, which it says are often overshadowed by recycling. The manufacturer is calling for more capacity and council schemes for compostables.

Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of TIPA, said: “With compostable packaging, there is no need to stockpile it. It can be simply taken to a composting facility or to your home composter, to biodegrade into compost for soils and avoid creating pollution.”

She added: “There are still some barriers in place. In Defra’s more recent plans, plastic packaging recycling has been favoured in the form of Deposit Return Schemes and amended Packaging Waste Recycling Notes.

“In an ideal world, the UK would have more facilities and council schemes to pick up food waste and compostable packaging alike. Currently, the government is not doing enough to ensure that compostables have a place at the solutions table, even going as far as to reject solutions offered.

“But this is not some unachievable pipe dream. We can look to those who are proving it is possible – countries such as Australia, Italy and Austria that are introducing compostable packaging collections on a wider basis.”