Waste and Recycling: All Eyes on the Retail Sector

1st April 2015

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Milk on supermarket shelvesThe role that retailers play in reducing waste and increasing recycling rates has been high on the news agenda in recent weeks, with topics ranging from charging for plastic bags to the use of recycled plastic in milk bottle production.

The Resource Association has called on retailers and the recycling and plastics industries to stand by the UK plastic recycling sector by committing to using recycled plastic in the production of milk bottles.

This is fuelled by concerns over falling oil prices and the impact this might have on plastics recyclers. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) minister Dan Rogerson raised concerns at a meeting last week that falling oil prices might contribute to some users of recycled plastic switching back to materials such as virgin polymers, whose cost falls alongside the cost of oil.

Good progress has been made in recent years to increase the amount of recycled plastic and packaging used in supply chains but an industry wide commitment to recycling and embracing recycled materials will be imperative in taking these environmental and economic benefits further.

Chief Executive of the Resource Association, Ray Georgeson, welcomed intervention from the minister but believes that in order to safeguard the future of the plastics recycling industry, firm commitments to use rHDPE in bottle production must be made and the support of retailers in taking some of the brunt of cost pressures from reprocessors will be vital.

This news coincides with the results of a survey showing consumers would support laws to enforce a minimum requirement of recycled plastic, even if it incurred a price increase. 68% of adults would support an increase in the price of milk of around 0.1p in order to ensure that bottles contain at least 30% recycled materials. The Resource Association predicts that a 0.1p increase in the price of a two pint bottle of milk would cover the costs to use recycled polymers.

Further pressure has been placed on retailers following the circulation of guidance by Defra reminding retailers of their requirement to charge 5p for every plastic bag consumed from 5th October with warnings that a breach of policy could incur a fine of up to £20,000. It is hoped that this will encourage the use of reusable shopping bags and reduce the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill.

Would you be prepared to pay a higher price if retailers increased the percentage of recycled materials in their packaging? Does recycling/recyclable materials influence your purchasing decisions? Share your thoughts with us via Twitter @707RM or comment below. If you’re looking for a solution to your own business waste and recycling, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.

Image courtesy of Carly Hagins (Flickr)


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