Posted: 05/10/2022


Plastics recycling charity, RECOUP, again proves its position as the number one conference in the plastics recycling and resources sector with another outstanding day of debate and presentations. Stuart Foster, CEO, of RECOUP in his address highlighted that “we live in a world demanding better environmental protection, circularity and sustainability whilst wanting to hold on to consumerism, low cost, convenience, growth and economic prosperity.” Foster reiterated that RECOUP, would continue to deliver the organisation’s aims with balance, integrity and evidence. He continued to announce that Morrisons was the latest company to join RECOUP and “if you are thinking of supporting RECOUP, now is the time.”

Tom Heap, of ‘Costing the Earth’ and BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ commented that it was an interesting time both politically and legislatively. Heap referred to the importance of legislation in relation to plastics recycling and resources.

With Heap’s direction, plastic packaging tax, tray-to-tray recycling, investment in chemical recycling, feedstock quality and circular economy principles were debated. All speakers repeated previous conference calls to increase and improve collaboration.

Hayley Lloyd-House, Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Nestlé Waters (UK) Ltd highlighted the positive joint work with RECOUP and drew attention to the ‘The 5 -pillar strategy’ aimed to Reduce, Re-use, & Refill, Redesign and Rethink behaviours.

The panel debated the lack of consistency in kerbside plastics collections and communications as well as UK recycling capacity. With mixed messaging and ‘wish’ recycling causing contamination and a call for the harmonisation of labelling.

Paula Chin, Senior Policy Advisor – Consumption at WWF set the scene in session two by stating that it was important that the sector use the “right material, in the right place and with the right approach.” Chin highlighted products such as disposable vapes and questioned why such products are placed on the market when there is clearly no end-of-life solution. Chin once again called on the delegates to appreciate that the only way forward was to reduce consumption.

Rowan Byrne, Marine Plastics Global Lead at Mott MacDonald commented on the issue of plastics in the natural environment particularly rivers and oceans, “to manage something you have to measure it” however, “the challenge with plastics in the environment is the issue gets bigger as plastics get smaller. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.” Byrne further highlighted that perhaps there should be a ban on wet wipes.

RECOUP launched a number of reports and projects at the event;

  • A Best Practice Guide for UK Plastics Recycling Communications Best Practice Guide for UK Plastics Recycling Communications – RECOUP Recycling
  • Recyclability by Design 2023 and case studies highlighting the importance of recyclability basic principles, material substitution concerns and work in the area of bacon and meat packaging.
  • ESA Quality Standard for Recycled Plastics with support from the British Plastics Federation, Recycling Association and RECOUP, to define a quality standard for post-consumer recycling.

The afternoon panel was chaired by Sara Banning, Innovation Lead from Innovate UK – UKRI. The panel called for the importance of data to be used for accountability, the need for clear government signals and policies for reuse and prevention targets, a mindset shift towards circular economy and the common theme of the day, collaboration.

For more information about RECOUP, the work they do and how to join please contact Next years’ conference is on Thursday 28th September 2023.