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RECOUP: Has There Been Any Shift in Public Knowledge of Plastics Recycling?

Plastics recycling charity and member-based organisation, RECOUP, will be challenging the delegates at their Plastics Recycling Conference on 27th September 2018. With record numbers anticipated to attend, RECOUP interviewed the main session chair, Prof. Margaret Bates, for some insight as to what delegates could expect to hear debated.

Prof. Bates commented: “It used to be that recycling was something that we took for granted, increasingly plastics were also something that we took for granted and neither of them would be mentioned let alone featured in the mainstream press.  This situation has now changed, there is an increased awareness of both plastics and recycling but, sadly, I feel this has not increased knowledge.  We have a, possibly unique, opportunity to exploit this awareness and make people understand their responsibilities.”

Bates further commented: “We need to ensure that designers, manufacturers and the public realise that recycling is more sophisticated than just bin men.  If we want recycling to work, we need to ensure that the material produced is of sufficient quality and that there is the demand for that material.  Producer responsibility should join up production and demand and engage the whole value chain in the sustainable management of our plastic, and other, resources.  Government cannot, as I believe it has so far, rely on industry to drive the agenda. Increases in recyclability and recycled content have been driven by manufacturers working in partnership with their value chains – most importantly those that collect and reprocess material.   Government needs to set up systems, such as through a modulated PRN scheme, that reward doing the right thing and the opportunity to influence is now.”

The RECOUP Conference has long been an opportunity for the whole of the plastics recycling industry to come together under one roof to explore opportunities, share knowledge and debate the key topics of the day.   The need is greater than ever before for collaboration across all sectors of the industry.

Echoing Prof Bates’ viewpoint, Stuart Foster, CEO, commented: “The messages given to householders around plastics recycling need to be aligned and based on facts. Despite the recognised role of consumer engagement in a successful recycling scheme, there has been very little financial support available for these activities.  RECOUP is addressing this challenge through the Pledge2Recycle Plastics campaigns aimed at ‘Cutting the Confusion’ around plastic recycling. We are seeing an increased consumer recognition and use of the On-Pack Recycling Label.   Yet this is not enough recognition of the role of consumer responsibility, and potential consumer apathy that still exists.  Despite the media attention has behaviour really changed?

“With plans to increase producer funding for recycling through extended responsibility measures, and given ongoing issues with recycling export markets, there is a fantastic opportunity to really grow the UK plastic recycling infrastructure.”

The RECOUP Plastics Recycling Conference will be held at KingsGate Conference Centre, Peterborough on 27th September 2018 and is open for registration with delegate and exhibitor packages at www.recoup.org/conference-2018.

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