RESOURCE ASSOCIATION WELCOMES MINISTERIAL INTERVENTION ON PLASTICS RECYCLING - CHALLENGE NOW IS FOR THE SUPPLY CHAIN TO RESPOND URGENTLY

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Resource Association, the trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, today welcomed the call by Defra Resources Minister Dan Rogerson MP for renewed commitment to the voluntary agreements that have driven progress in collection and recycling of rHDPE plastic packaging by ensuring minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, especially plastic milk bottles.

This follows a meeting convened by Mr Rogerson on Tuesday this week (18th March) at which he gathered representatives from waste, resources and plastics industry associations, the retail sector, major brand owners and WRAP for an urgent discussion of the issues.

Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association said:

“Dan Rogerson’s intervention this week was timely and necessary and we are grateful to him for his critical attention to the problems that plastics reprocessors are facing as a result of low oil prices and the switch back to virgin polymer by some of the major players in the supply chain.”

“The meeting heard many general messages of support for the continued use of recycled content in line with the commitments made under the Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment, facilitated by WRAP.   However, these were not backed by specifics in the meeting and frankly, warm words are not enough.”

“We call on all the signatories of the Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment to honour their commitments to recycled content, but this now means more is needed than merely a general statement of intent – it needs an urgent switch back to specifying rHDPE with immediate effect.”

“We recognise that there are cost pressures on all parts of the supply chain, but at the moment, the most vulnerable part of the supply chain – the reprocessor – is carrying the cost burden and most of the risk.  A long term view is needed, and a reminder of the sustainability commitments made by retailers and major brand owners is now necessary, along with this urgent appeal to take the long view, stand firm with the reprocessors, help them weather the storm and protect this vital UK recycling infrastructure for many years to come.  If we lose it for the sake of 0.1p on the cost of a standard two pint plastic milk bottle, not only will it be a hole under the waterline for the voluntary approach taken by WRAP, Government and the industry, it will make all the warm words about sustainability and the circular economy sound very hollow.” 

“Given that the supply chain has already had the windfall and benefit of huge cost savings from the reduced cost of virgin polymer for the 70% of product that is virgin content, surely 0.1p on the cost of a milk bottle is not a high price to pay for the sustainability of the UK rHDPE recycling infrastructure?”

Peter Clayson, Chair of the Resource Association concluded:

“We stand ready to assist the Minister and industry in any further discussion that may be needed to accelerate this week’s important intervention by him to a level where urgent and positive decisions can be made by those who have them in their gift – the major retailers and brand owners – to put this valuable UK recycling infrastructure back on a steady footing and continue to play its part in the future circular economy.”

ENDS

NOTES:

  1. The Resource Association focuses on championing the value of UK reprocessing and recycling in terms of employment, resource efficiency and integrity, carbon reduction and our role in the low-carbon, green economy.  It works with Governments across the UK, the European Commission, other trade associations and stakeholders with shared interests.  Our member companies and organisations represent an estimated £2.7bn contribution to UK GDP, the recovery and recycling of over 7 million tonnes annually and the employment of over 10,000 people.  Further information at www.resourceassociation.com
  2. The Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment are voluntary agreements made by the retailers and major brand owners, facilitated by WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme).  They contain important commitments to specify a minimum of 30% recycled content in plastic milk bottles. Dairy Roadmap website: http://www.dairyroadmap.com/ and Dairy Road Map: www.dairyco.org.uk/non_umbraco/download.aspx?media=10018  and sustainability reports: http://www.dairyroadmap.com/download-the-dairy-roadmap-report/ Courtauld Commitment: http://www.wrap.org.uk/category/initiatives/courtauld-commitment
  3. Minister Dan Rogerson MP convened a meeting of major stakeholders in the plastics recycling supply chain at his Defra offices on Tuesday 18th March. The Resource Association’s Chief Executive was in attendance.
  4. The UK has two major reprocessors of recycled HDPE (rHDPE – High Density Polyethylene) that provide the recycled content feedstock for UK produced plastic milk bottles – they are Closed Loop Recycling in Dagenham and Biffa Polymers in Redcar.
  5. Based on data supplied by our major member Closed Loop Recycling – based on a current price differential of c15% between virgin and recycled and a raw material cost of a 25g milk bottle of 2.2p – a 15% premium for rHDPE for the 30% recycled content specified in the commitment is an additional cost per bottle of 0.1p.
  6. The following organisations have worked in partnership to develop the Dairy Roadmap: ACE UK, ADAS, Agricultural Industries Confederation, ASDA, Booths, Country Land and Business Association, The Co-Operative, Dairy UK, IGD, M&S, Morrisons, Nampak Plastics, National Farmers Union, RABDF, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Tenant Farmers Association, Waitrose.  See  http://www.dairyroadmap.com/