Plastics recyclers are calling for reform of the PRN system to establish a split target for plastic packaging recycled in the UK and that exported overseas for reprocessing.
This is among several policy proposals outlined by the Recycling Group of the British Plastics Federation (BPF) in its 2014 manifesto published today (August 19). Members of the group include plastics reprocessors Chase Plastics, Closed Loop Recycling, Eco Plastics and Axion Recycling.
According to the BPF, a reform of the existing PRN system is needed. The system ensures that packaging producers are responsible for funding the recycling of their products once they reach the end of life, through purchasing packaging recovery notes (PRNs), or their export equivalent, PERNs.
The BPF claims that the current mechanism could be altered to include a gradually increasing target for domestic recycling, which would encourage investment in the UK reprocessing sector, and ensure that the country is ‘at the forefront of technology’.
The organisation acknowledges that the export sector has been key to driving up plastics recycling rates to date, but claims that more incentive is needed to increase the amount of plastic packaging that is recycled in the UK.
BPF adds that given the possibility that plastic packaging recycling targets could rise in line with proposals put forward by the European Commission last month , the UK will need to reduce the reliance on exporting plastics overseas in order to prevent economic opportunities from being lost.And, the BPF claims that encouraging an increase in the amount of material that is processed in the UK would deliver the best environmental outcome for the UK, as well as creating domestically-based ‘green jobs’, investment in infrastructure and protection from global market fluctuations.
Another issue raised in the manifesto is the lack of incentives currently in place to boost the use of recycled plastics in new products.
The group has re-iterated its call for an ‘offset’ principle to be embedded within the PRN system, whereby manufacturers of plastic packaging products are given a smaller recycling obligation equivalent to the amount of recycled material that they use in new products .
“The BPFRG believes the future proofing of markets for waste can only be achieved by ensuring that traction exists to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and innovation to develop new markets and applications for recycled plastics.”Commenting on the proposals, Roger Baynham, chairman of the BPF’s Recycling Group, said: “The proposals contained in this manifesto are designed not only to provide a route map to deliver the best environmental outcomes from plastic waste but also to create new low carbon manufacturing jobs in the vanguard of the circular economy.
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