Budget 2012: Disappointment for plastics industry

The Government’s decision to increase plastic recycling targets is a blow to the plastics industry in the UK, according to the British Plastics Federation.


In yesterday’s budget, the Government confirmed that it will increase plastic packaging recycling by 5% a year to reach a business target of 57% in 2017.

In a statement, the BPF said the recycling targets were a blow to the plastic industry.


The BPF added: “We are extremely disappointed that the Government has chosen to ignore our advice. We believe that whilst recycling is a priority we should not forget the implementation of other waste management techniques such as energy from waste. It is not just the industry that is saying this but also the consumer.

“A YouGov Survey conducted in March 2012 elicited strong support for a high level of plastics packaging recovery in its broadest sense. 74% respondents agreed with the proposition that plastics should not be buried in landfill and only 4% disagreed.

“This corresponds very closely with the objectives of Plastics 2020 which is seeking to divert all plastics packaging from landfill by 2020 through higher levels of recycling and energy from waste.

“It is all very well to have an extremely ambitious recycling target but the infrastructure needs to be in place to deliver this.”

‘More support’

Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), has also expressed disappointment at the Budget.

He said: “This is not the pro-green economy budget for which we might have hoped. While CIWM welcomes confirmation that packaging targets will increase between 2013 and 2017 we would like to see more support for UK-based recycling and reprocessing capacity.

“Despite the Chancellor’s broad commitment to developing the right infrastructure for the future, it is also disappointing that measures to increase investor confidence in the waste sector, including a longer term plan for landfill tax and more detail on the remit and lending criteria of the Green Investment Bank, were not forthcoming.”

BPF director general Peter Davis said:  “We fully support an increase in the plastic packaging recycling target but the Government’s target is unrealistic and unachievable and the costs will drive packaging production and filling to other countries.”



  1. PackagingTechie

    Has the BPF twisted the facts here to suit their own agenda? It is not just the industry that is saying this but also the consumer is surely inaccurate considering the statement in the next paragraph stating that the public supports recovery in its broadest sense intimating that the public supports both recycling and burning for energy generation.

    The anomaly here is that if you asked the same public if they preferred that plastic waste was recycled or burnt they would surely choose the former and would be very surprised that the latter takes place.

    In fact I would go as far as to say that a majority of the UK public are completely ignorant of the ‘recyclability’ of the plastic packaging waste that they discard. And those who do conscientiously wash it and stick it in their recycling bin have little or no idea what happens to it after collection. I am sure that if you told them that a percentage of it was burnt for energy a vast majority would be both surprised and shocked.

    So isn’t it about time the plastic industry stepped up and took more responsibility for the waste that is generated from their products? We rely so heavily now on plastics and they pervade every area of our daily lives. In turn the industry has grown massive, successful and profitable. Surely any effort to increase recycling should be supported and not criticised by the industry that makes a great deal of money from generating these materials.

  2. The plastics industry is all over the map when it comes to doing anything to make them recycle more. If a container deposit scheme is discussed they always come out with ‘that is the wrong thing to do’ and they argue that they should be allowed to manage the recycling of containers themselves as they can do it for less cost. Yet years on they have done little to improve container recycling.
    Now we have here a government setting modest recycling standards, only 57%, and again industry comes out saying that is too aggressive and other solutions should be considered such as incineration.
    What it comes down to it industry does not want to have to handle the recycled plastic. It is far easier for them to buy in nice clean raw plastic material and use that all the time. This is not a sustainable model at all and the plastics industry has to be made responsible for the recovery of the plastic waste its products make. Extended Producer Responsibility is what it is called. The industry needs to actively be contributing to recovery schemes, public education of recycling and the infrastructure need to make recycling efficient.
    Up till now one could argue that the plastics industry has been using plastic irresponsibly with their only concern of how to make a sell a product and not care about the follow on consequences. To make a product that has just a few minutes of useful life then to last 100’s of years after disposal is irresponsible. We need very high recycling targets and each industry has to comply and contribute towards achieving those targets.

  3. Perfectly put Dr Ross. If the industry doesn’t start to get pro-active I think it will eventually find itself heavily penalised for the current lack of effort. In the end, as governments up their green credentials they will formulate and then invoke much stricter legalisation – then the industry will really have something to complain about!