Auditing ‘central to plastic packaging policies’

Transparent auditing systems are vital to meet the  plastic packaging challenge, according to the head of policy and infrastructure at plastic recycling charity, Recoup.

Steve Morgan discussed the role of UK recycling infrastructure and export markets in tackling the plastic packaging challenge

Steve Morgan spoke at RWM yesterday to discuss the roles of the UK recycling infrastructure and international waste markets when tackling plastic.

He said that transparency must be “firm and centre to everything” around plastics recycling rules and legislation. “We have a whirlpool going on. We have a lot of policies and strategies coming all at once and nobody quite knows where it’s going to end up.”

Mr Morgan emphasised that within this “whirlpool” it is more important than ever to come up with clear and transparent auditing systems.

Policy changes

With the upcoming policy changes, such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Treasury’s plastic packaging tax, Mr Morgan reiterated the importance of establishing clear auditing processes alongside it, claiming there is currently “not enough enforcement”.

Using EPR as an example, he highlighted the requirements under the reform for UK plastic exporters to validate where material is going, as well as what is happening to it once it arrives.

Mr Morgan noted that unless a clear and transparent auditing system is in place, there is little evidence to see how these greater restrictions on export will be achieved.

He said that with fluctuating cost of packaging recovery notes (PRN’s) investment from businesses would be “difficult to justify”.

He questioned: “What if we can’t export? It will change the whole dynamic and presents a risk of stockpiling material in the UK. That is why we need more transparency in our systems.

“The export of good quality material continues to have a strong role to play. We have a good opportunity to be world leaders here, but at the moment opportunities are running short to influence EPR policies, and being of the capacity we need.”

Mr Morgan spoke of the role export markets play amid the policy changes

Infrastructure

Mr Morgan explained that as these policies come into the play, the UK essentially must double its capacity.

“We’ve got the tax coming, EPR coming. It will be very interesting to see how this comes about in terms of developing the infrastructure, we need.

“We could develop good infrastructure if we focus on implementing well-designed policy. We just need investment in the right area, and all of this underpinned by digital systems and greater transparency in the sector.”

Strong role

As the sector undergoes a “period of transition”, Mr Morgan concluded that the export of good quality material is a major factor.

He also remarked that “not all export is bad”, claiming it will be one key to complying with waste legislation in the UK, and abroad.

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