Date Published: Thursday 19th August 2021


The challenge of recycling plastics films and flexibles has long been debated, with collection, material sorting and end markets all needing development, investment, and energy to transform the circular outcomes for this plastic format.  

In response, plastics recycling charity, RECOUP, have set aside a full session at their Conference on 30th September dedicated to the topic.  RECOUP’s view is there is no question that significantly much more household plastic film must be recycled if ambitious targets for plastic packaging recycling as outlined in DEFRA consultations are to be met.  To be able to collect the material kerbside is almost certainly the most effective approach and there are enough research reports and international evidence to indicate that collection and sorting of household films and flexibles is possible. There are, however, a range of views regarding sensible timescales for implementation, who pays and how much.  Solutions should be provided through the packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reform, and collection consistency measures and, the industry would hope to hear more from DEFRA on this before the end of the year, with a plan that drives the opportunity forwards from 2024 while addressing the concerns raised through recent consultations.

Carole Taylor, Chair of LARAC, who will be moderating the session commented “The collection of plastic film and flexibles will be a challenge to local authorities if the sorting and end markets are not in place to be able to deal with the material collected. Ensuring the infrastructure is available to deal with films and flexibles is the first really important step which will give confidence to councils to be able to collect this material in a way that suits their local area.”

RECOUP add there is a need for a coordinated industry led UK demonstration for recycling plastic films and flexibles at scale to prove which approaches work for UK kerbside systems, and to give confidence that the reprocessing and end market demand for this material exists and is developing.

Other speakers include:

Franz Kraus, Senior Director Public Affairs, TIPA® Corp; Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager, WRAP; James Wigzell, TSS, Avery Dennison; and Dr Geoff Brighty, Non-Executive Director, Renew ELP and Ashwin Moorthy, Category Packaging Technology Manager, Sainsburys.

Robbie Staniforth, Innovation & Policy Director, Ecosurety, who is also due to speak in the session commented “there are many obvious challenges with increasing the amount of flexible plastic packaging recycled, such as the varying nature of the material. However, the concerted industry focus in this area has opened up an array of opportunities for collecting, sorting, and reprocessing. With the Government citing the introduction of mandatory household collections in the coming years, the Flexible Plastics Fund provides funding to scale up reprocessing in the interim.”

Stuart Foster, CEO, RECOUP added “The recent developments in front of store film collections are very welcomed as a short to medium term solution and we will continue to support our retailer members with their initiatives. It will help provide confidence in quantities of recyclable material available, test end markets and provide additional confidence in planned investments, help citizens to become more familiar with film recycling behaviour, plus encourage the wider adoption of design for recycling by producers.”

Further details of the Conference where Tom Heap of BBC Countryfile will moderate sessions on the impact and response of the plastics recycling value chain on climate change and net zero aspirations, can be found at  

Any organisations wishing to become a member of RECOUP are encouraged to contact or  

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