Recycled plastic could meet three-quarters of UK demand

14th June 2018

Web plastic istock 491963649

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Waste ,
  • Policy ,
  • Recycling



The UK’s recycling industry could provide around three-quarters of the raw materials needed for plastic packaging and products with government support.

That is according to a report released today by the Green Alliance, which argues that the government’s current focus on recycling targets fails to create a market for the plastic recycled.

It recommends short-term support to kick-start the reprocessing market and a new fund to attract investment, as well as mandatory recycling requirements for all plastic products and packaging.

“Just collecting plastic and shipping it abroad doesn’t solve the problem,” Green Alliance senior policy adviser on resources, Libby Peake, said.

“If the UK wants to lead the world in addressing the global scourge of plastic pollution, that means creating a circular economy at home that allows us to turn discarded plastics back into new products.”

The report argues that the government’s current approach to recycling simply pushes material into the waste management system, failing to develop a market for the plastic collected.

It says that this has resulted in an over reliance on virgin materials, wasting valuable resources to the detriment of the environment, industry and the economy.

By adopting the report’s recommendations, it is estimated that the recycling industry could supply 71% of the raw materials needed by manufacturers of plastic products and packaging.

The Green Alliance said new policy would be needed to overcome technical barriers, and that a long-term strategy should provide certainty for investors, facilitate new collaborative problem-solving, and ratchet up ambition over time.

“The time has come for the UK to take more responsibility for its own waste.” WRAP UK director, Peter Maddox, said. “We need to design circular systems for plastics and other materials that are sustainable.

“The UK government has a great opportunity through the forthcoming resources and waste strategy to ensure the policy framework enables a thriving and commercially successful UK recycling sector.”

Image credit: iStock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Scotland to scrap its 2030 climate target

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

It’s well recognised that the public sector has the opportunity to work towards a national net-zero landscape that goes well beyond improving on its own performance; it can also influence through procurement and can direct through policy.

19th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close