Posted: 16/10/2023

RECOUP Plastics Resource and Recycling Conference – Another Successful Year!

Plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP, again proves its position as the number one conference in the sector with another outstanding day of debate and presentations focused on the theme of sustainability and rising importance of the circular economy.


Sponsored by, Berry bpi, Tomra, Schoeller Allibert Services, Plastics Europe, Beyondly, BPF, IOM3 and Circular&co. The event was held at KingsGate Conference Centre in Peterborough for the 10th year running with around 400 people from across various educational institutions, waste and recycling companies, packaging producers, environmental consultants, and government bodies in attendance. This year RECOUP tried to avoid single use plastic where possible, putting Circular & Co’s returnable cup scheme in place as a much more ecofriendly solution to single use cups. The system was very well received on the day, with lots of positive comments being made.


Tom Heap, of ‘Costing the Earth’ and BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ directed the days debates, igniting dialogues about the right material, right place, and the right approach in plastics recycling, as well as exploring innovations in the industry.


The panel debated how the whole value chain should work together to make the process more efficient with Dr Geoff Mackay, UK Country Head, Plastics Europe, raising the point that “we only have one world. We need to think about the materials we use and how we use them”. Yet the abundance of constantly changing legislation, company strategy, environmental impact, and consumer views that we all have to navigate makes this task a lot more complicated than it perhaps needs to be. As commented by Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology, Veolia, “There has been so much time spent on the how, and we still don’t have the what”.


Items such as vapes and coffee pods were discussed by the panel as an example for such an issue, with the general consensus being that we should all work together to ensure that before products are placed on the market, a stream is in place for consumers to correctly recycle those products when they come to the end of their life.


The panel also debated how environmentally educated we are, referring to how conscious we are when buying goods. We can see that the public is undoubtedly much more conscious of environmental issues and in favour of change. However, Robert Thompson, Packaging Manager, The Co-op, commented that “a family with little money and 5 kids to feed are less likely to be environmentally conscious”, reiterating the need to make reuse, recovery and recycling easy and accessible.


For another year running attention then turned to the lack of consistency in kerbside plastics collections and communications as well as UK recycling capacity, calling for a more simple process that the public and the whole value chain will be engaged with and participate in. Ultimately, the use of plastics needs to be done in the right way, with appropriate end of life solutions in place before a product is available on the market.


For more information about RECOUP, the work they do and how to join please contact Next years’ conference is on Thursday 26th September 2024.