It’s “Crunch Time” for UK Plastic Packaging Recycling

Date Published: Friday 18th February 2022

RECOUP releases the UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2021, estimating that 584,000 tonnes of household plastic packaging was collected for recycling in 2020. This is an increase of 24,000 tonnes (approx. 4%), of material compared to 2019, despite the challenges created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the UK leaving the EU.

The report also estimates that 75% of PET drinks bottles and 78% of natural HDPE milk bottles are collected for recycling. With 45% of non-drinks bottles, 36% of plastic pots, tubs and trays, and 8% of plastic film collected, the overall collection rate for household plastic packaging was 41% in 2020.

Around 1.4 million tonnes of consumer plastic packaging is placed on the market each year in the UK. This means an additional 400,000 tonnes would need to be collected to meet the target of 70% recycled or composted by 2025.

Steve Morgan, Head of Policy and Infrastructure at RECOUP, commented:

“There are a multitude of varied high impact policies floating around, including Extended Producer Responsibility, Deposit Return Schemes, Plastic Packaging Tax, Consistent Collections in England, and Single-Use Plastics, and they’re going to come together at different times and provide different dynamics. Like a whirlpool, they’re going to be thrown together, probably at speed, and how they settle will direct the capability of the UK to manage our waste and recycling systems, possibly for a generation. It is crunch time for both decision-makers and industry to ensure that the policies can be implemented on time and effectively, in order to meet the UK’s environmental goals and maintain public support.”

The RECOUP UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2021 report is now available to download

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