Date Published: Friday 27th September 2019







National plastics recycling charity, RECOUP, hosted over 500 delegates at their annual Conference at KingsGate Conference Centre, Peterborough, to discuss and debate the future of recycled plastics.   Delegates from across the plastics recycling value chain debated the use of plastics within the agricultural and construction industries, as well as consumer perceptions and technological advances in plastic packaging sorting and recycling. 

Tom Heap, TV Presenter and host of BBC Radio 4 ‘Costing the Earth’, returning to Chair the morning session, of the conference, in welcoming the delegates to Peterborough commented

“I am delighted to be invited back to the RECOUP conference again. I’m sure the quality of debate and presentations I will not disappoint. Never has there been so much interest in the Waste Industry”

Heap added:
There is a lot of fervor about plastic. But is the public caring enough? Are they reacting and changing behaviours? Is their concern really carrying over into action?

“Or perhaps ‘plastiphobia’ is actually counterproductive.  Is it really causing some perverse results?

“Public pressure is important, but we know investment, policy, and invention make a big difference. We know opportunities and issues are moving at pace, and today promises to be a great day which will continue to challenge the status quo within the plastics resource and recycling space.”

Stuart Foster, CEO, of RECOUP, gave a powerful opening addressed the audience recognising that  

“This has been an exceptional year for plastics, resource and waste management. The ongoing challenges and questions that face us all are many, this is matched by the fundamental shift in attitude towards improved long-term use of plastic resources and the development of circular economy models.” 


He was optimistic that with further developments and delivery of the Resource and Waste Strategy together with ongoing genuine cross-sector collaboration, the UK could be world leaders in resource management, recycling and environmental protection.


Foster also stated that
“While consumer engagement seems to be at the centre of most successful recycling and antilittering models, more strategic funding support was needed in this space.”


He called again on both food and non-food retailers to donate 1p per bag from carrier bag levy funds for RECOUP to deliver the consumer campaigns on plastics recycling through the pledge2recycle plastics initiative.


He also emphasised the need for additional domestic reprocessing infrastructure, and also much better auditing and policing of plastics that are exported for recycling.


RECOUP announced at the industry-leading event that Adam Frost, the award-winning garden designer and tv presenter is a new RECOUP patron alongside David Bellamy OBE.

The common theme from the day was that the Plastics Industry as a whole are keen to make plastic recycling easier, more consistent and simple.

Julian Kirby, Friends of the Earth reminded that
“Doing plastics better IS reducing plastic impacts. We need to rethink how we use plastic, reduce the use, reuse it and then recycle it.”

Making changes to such a wide and varied industry is like trying to ‘turn a super-tanker’ however these changes are being worked on by the whole industry. Competition is being put to one side to find a common approach and having almost 500 people from all areas talking plastic recycling was a huge testament to this intention.

A cross industry panel of representatives from the Green Alliance, Danone, Viridor, Ecosurety,  Waste Aid and the West London Waste Authority called for consistency, backed by scientific evidence and research. This then needs to be backed up with a clear communication and engagement programme to restore the trust and bring transparency to consumers.  RECOUP have already done a lot of work on citizen engagement and wholly endorse this view.

Kate Geraghty, Dow Europe GmbH, agreed
“We have to fix plastic waste across the whole systems and that involves the entire value chain, including citizens if we are to regain public trust”

This Peterborough Conference is a key national event within the plastics recycling industry and provides a platform where waste collectors, Local Authorities, plastics reprocessors, packaging manufacturers, trade bodies, brand owners and retailers can network, discuss issues and work on collaborative solutions to plastics packaging issues. 

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