Plastics recycling charity RECOUP has announced that it will be setting aside a full session on plastic films and flexibles recycling at its upcoming Plastics Resources and Recycling Conference on September 30.
RECOUP has said that there is ‘no question’ that significantly more household plastic film must be recycled if ambitious targets for plastic packaging recycling, as outlined in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consultations, are to be met.
The challenge of recycling plastic films and flexibles has long been debated. RECOUP has stated that collection, material sorting and end markets all needing development, investment and energy to transform the circular outcomes for the plastic format.
RECOUP believes that kerbside collection would be the most effective approach, with research reports and international evidence, it says, indicating that such processes are possible. There are, however, a range of views regarding sensible timescales for implementation, who pays and how much. The charity said solutions should be provided through the packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reform and collection consistency measures. The industry hopes to hear more from DEFRA by the end of this year.
Carole Taylor, Chair of LARAC, who will be moderating the session, commented:
“The collection of plastic film and flexibles will be a challenge to local authorities if the sorting and end markets are not in place to be able to deal with the material collected. Ensuring the infrastructure is available to deal with films and flexibles is the first significant step which will give confidence to councils to be able to collect this material in a way that suits their local area.”
RECOUP adds there is a need for a coordinated industry-led UK demonstration for recycling plastic films and flexibles at scale to prove which approaches work for UK kerbside systems and to give confidence that the reprocessing and end-market demand for this material exists and is developing.
Other speakers include:
Franz Kraus (Senior Director of Public Affairs at TIPA® Corp), Helen Bird (Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP), James Wigzell (TSS at Avery Dennison), Dr. Geoff Brighty (Non-executive Director of ReNew ELP) and Ashwin Moorthy (Category Packaging Technology Manager at Sainsbury’s).
Robbie Staniforth, Innovation & Policy Director at Ecosurety, who is also due to speak in the session, commented:
“There are many obvious challenges with increasing the amount of flexible plastic packaging recycled, such as the varying nature of the material. However, the concerted industry focus in this area has opened up an array of opportunities for collecting, sorting and reprocessing. With the government citing the introduction of mandatory household collections in the coming years, the Flexible Plastics Fund provides funding to scale up reprocessing in the interim.”
Stuart Foster, CEO of RECOUP, added:
“The recent developments in front of store film collections are very welcomed as a short to medium-term solution and we will continue to support our retailer members with their initiatives. It will help provide confidence in quantities of recyclable material available, test end markets and provide additional confidence in planned investments, help citizens to become more familiar with film recycling behaviour, plus encourage the wider adoption of design for recycling by producers.”
Further details of the conference where Tom Heap of BBC Countryfile will moderate sessions on the impact and response of the plastics recycling value chain on climate change and net-zero aspirations can be found at www.recoup.org/conference-2021.