OPINION: Last month HM Treasury reported back on responses received to its consultation on the taxation system and recycling, with particular regard to plastics. Jeff Rhodes, head of environment and external affairs at Biffa, offers some thoughts on the issues involved.
Back in our Reality Gap 2017 report Biffa highlighted the potential to use tax measures on certain materials to help stimulate recycling and secondary resource uptake.
So, it is pleasing to see the public and general support for such ideas now being recognised in the response to HM Treasury’s consultation on tackling plastics.
Biffa has a strong pedigree in dealing with plastics – not just as a leading collector and processor but as the developer of the UK’s first and award-winning plastics recycling facility for food grade HDPE, in the form of plastic milk bottles.
So successful has our Biffa Polymers plant been that around 80% of plastic milk bottles in circulation in the UK are likely to contain recycled plastic content from it.
Last year we invested a further £6.6 million in extending the plant and we have also recently announced our plans to investigate opportunities to invest in PET plastic drinks bottles recycling and re-processing.
We have also long called for packaging and product design to factor in recyclability much better than in the past and to exercise care about introduction of new materials and compounds which will complicate, rather than simplify, recycling and processing, especially biodegradable plastics if mixed up with oil-based plastics destined for recycling.
Finally, we also need to recognise the investment required in new UK infrastructure to reduce reliance on offshore markets and the fact that assistance from clear and supportive national policy – and more stable secondary materials markets – will help support the climate for that investment.