Operational recycling capacity of BPF members seen at 74% in 2021 / Government funding needed for reclaim infrastructure / UK trade group publishes first sustainability report
The British Plastics Federation (BPF, London; said its members who are recyclers are expected to operate at only 74% capacity in 2021, a sharp drop from pre-pandemic levels. It cited an operational capacity of 91% for its members at the beginning of 2020.

In its January 2021 “Recycling Roadmap” report outlining how government support is needed to boost the country's recycling systems, the federation said the impact of Covid-19 is being felt by recycling, “As a result of the pandemic, it is likely that rates of growth will be lower and timings for regulations delayed. There is uncertainty over the long-term impact of the pandemic around capacities and commercial viability.”

The report said the plastic recycling facilities in UK were running at reduced capacities of an average of 60% during the initial lockdown. “Low virgin prices due to lack of consumption in light of the pandemic have compounded this impact.”

Noting that much of the report was prepared before the pandemic, the federation said the UK could recycle up to 65% of all plastic and 75% of plastic packaging by 2030 if the government were to invest in new recycling systems and roll out a nationwide plastic waste collection scheme. With the right policies, the country could more than halve the amount of plastic waste being exported within 10 years, according to the report. Furthermore, the portion of such waste ending in landfills could fall to only 1%, a 94% reduction.
BPF outlines needed steps, introduces first sustainability report
In addition to investment in UK recycling systems, the report calls for kerbside collection of plastic film, increased use of recycled material in new products and better communication to the public about what can be recycled. In total, the report spells out 16 key changes to existing policy.

The BPF also called for the development of new technologies, estimating that if chemical recycling and other new reclaim methods were proved to work at scale, the amount of material processed with these technologies could increase from an existing figure of 5,000 t/y to 300,000 t/y by 2030 and include many currently hard-to-recycle plastics.

Recycling rates for a range of plastics also needs to increase, the BPF said, singling out sectors such as automotive, construction, electrical and electronics and households, which used more plastics than the packaging industry.

Philip Law, the BPF’s director general, said, “Drastically reducing our reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and the amount of plastic waste going to landfills is achievable and this roadmap shows how. Most importantly, there needs to be significant investment in increasing UK's recycling capacity.”

The BPF has also published its first sustainability report on the plastics supply chain, outlining how the industry is working towards achieving a circular economy. Law said the report “highlights the vast amount of fantastic work that has been done in recent years and shows how plastic is an irreplaceable material if society is to continue to reduce its impact on the environment.”
19.01.2021 [246715-0]
Published on 19.01.2021

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