The Recycling Association’s chief executive Simon Ellin has warned that the people behind the Big Plastic Count (an event co-organised by Greenpeace) were “irresponsible” for recent comments saying plastic recycling doesn’t work and for sowing seeds of doubt in the public mind.
He said: “These people are attacking the whole concept of recycling and not actually the problems that have led to not enough plastic being recycled. This is irresponsible by them.
“For decades we have seen products made from plastic that are hard to recycle, and that isn’t the fault of the recycling system, but those who designed and made these products in the first place.
“Thankfully, many responsible companies are now seeing the benefit of single-polymer type packaging, or single fibre alternatives, and are moving in a direction of using easy-to-recycle materials.
“The Resources and Waste Strategy will mean companies will need to produce single material packaging and local authorities will need to collect them. When combined with the Plastics Packaging Tax that is already driving demand for recycled polymers, we have a situation that is leading to even more investment in recycling infrastructure.
“Of course, we need to reduce our use of plastic, as we need to reduce our overall use of resources. But plastic and other packaging helps to protect our food, our cleaning products, and ensures goods last. Where packaging is needed, made from a single material and optimised to use as little as possible, once used we then need to recycle it.
“The idea that recycling doesn’t work is plain wrong, because we are close to sorting out the symptoms that made plastic recycling challenging, and fixing them to maximise our recycling of essential resources.
“While we don’t currently have the recycling infrastructure in the UK to recycle all we create, it is vitally important that we send our recycling to state-of-the-art facilities abroad. With the new Basel Convention regulations, there are now very strict rules on the export of plastics and this means markets are largely limited to those who have the capacity to recycle our plastics.”