Plastics Key to Security of UK, Parliamentarians Told

British Plastics Federation (BPF) Director General Philip Law conveyed a strong message to the government at the trade association’s annual parliamentary reception, delivered in conjunction with Plastics Europe. In his speech to a room comprising MPs, their peers and senior members of the plastics industry, the message was clear: the UK must support its plastics industry to remain a secure and stable nation.

Law stressed the vital role plastics play in defence, from fighter planes to warships, energy infrastructure, transport and healthcare, and helping to ensure the nation remains fed by protecting and preserving consumable products.

The event took place on 22 November 2023 and was attended by 26 MPs and peers plus Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake MP, who was the key speaker at the event.

The event was hosted by Mark Pawsey MP, who opened the event, explaining how the industry has come under pressure because used products are ending up where they shouldn’t. He stated:
“I know the industry is ready to play its part in dealing with those problems – and I know it is very keen for the government to clarify when it is going to bring measures through.”

After praising the attendant minister, Kevin Hollinrake MP, who he has known for many years, Pawsey continued:
“I just want to remind all of you here just how important this sector is to the British economy.”

Citing the large number of people employed and the amount the huge turnover of the plastics sector, Pawsey stated it needs attention and consideration from the government.

After being invited onto the stage, Philip Law stated:
“Today the industry has a £25bn turnover and with 155,000 employees, is the third largest manufacturing sector by employment in the UK, and among the top 10 exporters. The bulk of the industry is in the ‘levelling-up’ regions, and we have tremendous potential to help the UK as a source of high-quality employment, offering international careers.”

After stressing how crucial plastics are to the UK economy and the country’s security, Law continued:
“We are immensely grateful for the £4.5 billion investment in manufacturing, as announced late Friday, but we have to ask the question: what exactly is the strategy from which it sprang and which companies are eligible to apply?
Broad concepts were stated – ‘advanced manufacturing’ and ‘green industries’. It is absolutely crucial that plastics are placed at the heart of any categorisation of ‘advanced manufacturing’ and ‘green industries’.”

He then explained that for the UK plastics industry to reach its potential, changes in mindset, policy and legislation were required. The trade association’s six main asks of the UK government were outlined:

  • Support for filling the ongoing skills gap the industry faces.
  • Minimising barriers to trade, maintaining regulatory alignment with the EU in instances where it makes sense, and reinstating the tradeshow support programme.
  • Funding support for energy efficient machinery and equipment to keep the industry internationally competitive and help the UK to meet its net zero objectives.
  • Accelerating resolving issues impacting the plastic packaging and recycling industries, such as the incoming DRS and EPR reforms.
  • Permitting mass balance methodology (with fuel-exempt allocation) when accounting for chemically recycled material.
  • Investing money raised by the plastic packaging tax and EPR reforms into the UK’s recycling infrastructure.

 

Law then introduced Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake MP, who stressed he understood the challenges businesses faced, as he had spent a large part of his career in business and was an “unashamed champion of SMEs”. He stated:
“I couldn’t agree more in terms of regulatory alignment. It makes perfect sense to make sure we trade on a fair and level playing field and make it easy for people to trade across borders.”

The minister explained that the government is working to reduce friction businesses are experiencing when trading with the EU, such as extending indefinitely CE marking. He explained that the relationship with the EU is improving and further progress was expected. Acknowledging that some businesses have found delays to the implementation of these frustrating, he said he felt the delays were for good reasons, as the delays occurred after listening to businesses and were brought in with the intention of getting policies right.

“In terms of DRS […] we want a one-nation approach to that – not a several-nation approach to that.”

The minister continued to say it looked like that would be possible, as progress had been made regarding discrepancies between the English and Scottish proposals. He stated the government’s aims to ensure all plastic is recyclable by 2025 and to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within the next 25 years were the right decisions, and he was confident industry would find the solutions to those issues:
“We are keen to work with you to make sure you find those solutions. Our door is always open. I promise you we will never put the cart before the horse. […] I promise you definitely have a friend in our department. We will help businesses thrive, whenever we can.”

Philip Law then returned to the stage and, addressing the packed room of 140 people, stated:
“It is, generally, in the UK, a time of pulling together, and I do hope that today’s event is symbolic of that – and the plastic industry and parliamentarians can come into closer correspondence as a result.”

 

More details can be found on the BPF website.

 

Read More on BPF Here | PlastikMedia

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