Addressing plastics recycling challenges

DEFRA Resource Minister Dan Rogerson and Recoup’s Stuart Foster at the launch of the Pledge 4 Plastics initiative in early September.

INDEPENDENT plastics recycling organisation Recoup had its conference and AGM in Peterborough in late September, with over 250 delegates in attendance.

Dr Helmut Maurer from the European Commission gave the keynote presentation, with some thoughts on the EU approach to life-cycle thinking.
Referring to the recent European Commission proposals he reflected that maybe more attention should be on plastic as a specific waste stream. He also questioned whether resource issues should really be addressed through waste policy, and indicated that a rethink could be needed, potentially with the development of separate resource policies. He noted that too much plastic is sent to landfill which could be used and recycled, and concluded that plastic is an ideal material to demonstrate that it is possible and profitable to move towards a circular economy.
A video address from DEFRA Resource Minister Dan Rogerson confirmed that he is passionate about the challenge and opportunity to deliver a step change in the recycling of plastics, and his support of Recoup and the plastic supply and recycling chain in its ongoing work. He also confirmed government and public body commitment to work with the plastic industry to achieve recycling targets and realise a genuinely resource efficient economy.
Recoup’s chief executive Stuart Foster pointed to figures made available by the Environment Agency, suggesting that of the estimated £28 million received for plastics PRNs in 2013, very little was allocated towards communications despite initiatives such as Pledge 4 Plastics (a national plastics recycling campaign – see blue boxed section below) being seen as critical to increasing household plastic recycling levels.
He said that the Recoup annual survey – due out soon – is likely to report household plastic packaging collection levels in the region of 475kt for 2013 with further gains in the number of pot and tray collections and modest increases in bottle collections. It was also noted that the design for recyclability guidance would also be updated and re-issued before the end of the year.
The day also had demonstration 3D printers running with recycled polymer. There was also mention of the fact that Recoup mascots, used for campaigns over the last 15 years, have now been recycled into picnic benches and bin liners by BPI Plc, the main sponsors of this year’s conference.
• For more information visit the Recoup website at