01684 292727 sales@recyclingbins.co.uk
RecyclingBins.co.uk Trustpilot

We guarantee to have the lowest price! Find the same bin for a cheaper price and we will beat it!

UK Plastics Recycling is Exaggerated by a Third

UK Plastics Recycling is Exaggerated by a Third

UK Plastics Recycling is ‘Exaggerated by a Third.’

The UK packaging industry has been accused of exaggerating how much of its plastic gets recycled. Eunomia, the waste consultancy has estimated in a report that official figures might be exaggerated by about a third. The damning report said that most of the plastic in the waste stream is of such bad quality that it can’t be recycled. It also stated that packaging firms only contribute a small amount of the nearly £3 billion waste management bill that is a burden on cash-strapped local authorities.

Producer responsibility

Packaging firms in the UK have to take part in a government-backed scheme known as ‘producer responsibility.’ They have to purchase a Packaging Recovery Note, which is a type of credit, from a recycling firm to contribute financially to improvements in the recycling system.

Official figures show that the scheme raised £50m in 2016. The cash was ring fenced for increasing recycling collections and the processing of recyclables.

Local authorities have complained that they don’t get any of the money despite having to run waste collection services in the face of budget cuts.

Plastics and Waste

Government review of plastics and waste

There have been calls for the introduction of a deposit return scheme in the Uk, following on from the success of similar schemes in Scandinavia and Germany. Every bottle and can that enters the market is registered for the scheme, so recycling figures are accurate because they’re based on provable numbers, not just estimated figures.

Packaging industry firms want the government to stick with the current scheme, which they say is cheaper and logistically simpler.

The government is expected to decide after Easter.

Accusations of inflated recycling figures

Official statistics show that in 2016, the UK produced 2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste and recycled almost 44.9% of it. But Eunomia has questioned these numbers. When plastic is collected for recycling, the total amount is measured by weight. But after plastic has been used, moisture, labels, and other contaminants will increase the total weight.

Another issue is that the amount of plastic packaging producers send to market may be inaccurately reported. The more plastic producers make, the bigger their recycling bill will be under the current Packaging Recovery Note system.

Are producers under-reporting plastic production?

A group of firms run the Packaging Recovery Note operation, and the main operator is Valpak, who say there is no evidence that firms are under-reporting their plastic production. They say that they use a huge database of packaging weights of thousands of products to calculate an estimate of how much packaging is put onto the market.

They do acknowledge that there may be some inaccuracies, given that smaller businesses do not have to report how much plastic they send to market.

The current system benefits the packaging industry, not the taxpayer

The current system costs less for the packaging industry, but it costs us more because taxpayers pay for the collection and disposal of waste.

Eunomia want to see the introduction of a deposit return scheme, and for producers to pay fees based on how much recycled material their packaging contains and how easy it is to recycle.

Packaging Industry

Local government response

Local authorities say that they want to see a change in the system, where producers take greater responsibility for how waste is created and disposed of, including contributing towards the local authority waste management bill.

Packaging industry response

The packaging industry has emphasised the point that the producer responsibility systems was set up to meet recycling targets and minimise costs. It was not intended to meet all the costs of recycling.

A spokesperson said that the industry contributes an estimated £100m a year towards recycling, which is around 25-30% of the total bill.

Your Basket

Your basket is currently empty.

Shop Now