Circular economy policy should focus on management, not eradication - UK govt

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/07

LONDON (ICIS)--Measures to stem the tide of plastic waste should focus on management of resources rather than on outright bans of products, a representative for the UK government’s environment agency said on Thursday.

Improving collection of waste plastics and making the value chain more circular should be the focus of new legislation introduced, according to Steven Andrews, deputy head of resources and waste at the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“It is not a war against plastics, it’s a war against plastic waste,” he said, speaking at the IdentiPlast conference in London, UK.

The UK uses 5m tonnes of plastic every year, of which half is packaging material, and 3.7m tonnes of plastic waste is produced annually, Andrews said.

The UK has a target to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, and has stipulated that all material placed on the market be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Whereas France has introduced legislation banning a range of single-use plastics, the UK government is not focused on bans, although the end goal should be to reduce the amount of plastic in circulation, according to Andrews.

“We have introduced [legislation] on production, circulation and simplification… [to] increase producer responsibility, encourage reduction of plastic content and to reduce amount of plastic in circulation,” he said.

The country has four initiatives on reducing plastic waste under consultation until 13 May, including a tax on plastic material containing less than 30% recycled material by 2022, which was dismissed earlier on Thursday by an executive at European chemicals major INEOS as a “blunderbuss” approach.