Plastics recycled within facilities across the UK could increase 3.5 times by 2030 with the right drivers in place.
That’s according to a new report from the British Plastics Federation (BPF), which highlights what the UK needs to achieve if it is to drastically reduce reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and cut the amount of plastic going to landfill to 1% over the next decade.
It projects exports of plastic waste could more than halve and the UK could eliminate reliance on low quality exports within the next decade.
The report calls for same plastic waste collection schemes across all local authorities, kerbside collections for plastic film, increases in the use of recycled material in new products and better communication to the public about what can be recycled, in addition to investment in UK recycling systems.
It suggests new technologies must be expanded, estimating if chemical recycling and other new recycling methods are proven to work at scale, the amount of material processed this way could increase by 60 times.
This would mean newer recycling technologies would be able to process 300 kilotonnes of plastic waste per year by 2030 – up from five kilotonnes currently – including hard-to-recycle plastics.
In addition, the report calls for recycling rates to be increased for a range of plastic products, not just packaging, to significantly increase domestic recycling capacity.
It suggests the construction, automotive, electrical and electronics, household, sports and leisure and agriculture sectors represent a higher amount of plastic consumption in total than packaging and more needs to be collected and recycled.
Philip Law, Director General of the BPF said: “The BPF Recycling Roadmap shows that with the right collaborative effort, we have the potential to be a leading light when it comes to rapidly developing the technology and infrastructure to recycle far more plastic.
“Drastically reducing our reliance on exporting plastic waste for recycling and the amount of plastic waste going to landfill is achievable and this roadmap shows how. Most importantly, there needs to be significant investment in increasing UK recycling capacity.”