The industry must work together to ensure that the incineration of plastics is only a fallback option, rather than the main one.
That’s according to Stuart Foster, chief executive of plastics charity RECOUP, who was speaking on day two of the LARAC Conference last week.
Mr Foster explained that while the future of plastics recycling remains unclear, with the finer details of extended producer responsibility and deposit return schemes still to be fine-tuned, along with Brexit, some things remain clear.
“Ultimately, if we are tied to EU laws or not we are all talking about the same thing,” Mr Foster explained.
He added: “We have heard about raising the costs of landfill and incineration and we are going to be set higher recycling targets through the Circular Economy Package. To achieve that we need to ensure that landfill and energy recovery need to be only the fallback options, rather than the main option.
“We all have a role to play, the UK in Europe to ensure that plastic does not end up in the environment. We’ve seen evidence of this, as all local authorities will now collect plastic bottles by the end of next year, but more can be done.”
Mr Foster’s statement came on the same day as the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted to amend the Commission’s Single Use Plastics Directive.
It voted to amend the legislation to include a target of 35% of recycled content in beverage bottles by 2025.
The amendments were to a European Commission proposal on single-use plastics, which also called for a ban of plastics at landfill by 2030.
When discussing the impact of import restrictions, Mr Foster said he thinks this can lead to better quality infrastructure for plastics recycling.
Mr Foster said: “We know that other countries have begun saying no to Britain’s exported plastic, and I’m glad, to be honest, now is the time we can develop our own infrastructure, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to give you [local authorities] a robust market for recycled plastic.”