Plastics recycling charity and member organisation, RECOUP, has issued a stark warning to the UK plastics packaging supply chain and the recycling industry. At a time when the politicians and media are looking for industry-led voluntary interventions to encourage the consumer to deal with their plastics packaging responsibly; opportunities for positive, effective and consistent consumer communications are being lost.
Despite budget cuts in recent years, Local Authorities still reported to RECOUP, (through the UK plastics recycling survey) that budgets were available on a match funding basis for Pledge 4 Plastics recycling communications to households over the next year.
Communications to engage with households, will not only increase quantity and improve quality of household kerbside recycling collections but also help to improve the consumer perception of plastics. Unfortunately, RECOUP report that the response to match funding has been very slow with just a couple of pro-active companies providing support so far, this year. With a range of projects available requiring match funding pots from as little as £3,000 to as much as £25,000 the take-up has been surprisingly disappointing.
CEO of RECOUP, Stuart Foster, commented that, “I continue to be amazed by the lack of funding support from industry and government for the Pledge 4 Plastics initiative. Consumer engagement on plastics recycling has been a central pillar of RECOUP work for almost 30 years and is still a priority today, but we rely on the few to support a programme that benefits the many.
“It is crucial that Pledge 4 Plastics is supported as part of future EPR funding pots, but that is years away and action is needed now. I would urge anyone with involvement in the plastic packaging supply chain to find a way to support Pledge 4 Plastics in 2018.”
RECOUP developed their Pledge 4 Plastics brand in response to demand for a co-ordinated, consistent and effective plastic consumer communications initiative back in 2014. The key Pledge 4 Plastics transformational messages strike a chord with consumers and continue to inspire and assist the householder in their understanding of the benefits of recycled plastics and the ways in which their recycling can be used.
While there has been a continuing dialogue from all sectors of the plastics recycling industry on how to improve quality, and increase quantity of feedstock, the importance of such interventions seems to be losing their priority. Discussions are ongoing politically on the future of EPR, the industry cannot afford to stagnate and failure to remind households of what they can and cannot recycle in terms of plastics could result in a decrease in collection rates as well as increases in contamination.
Without sustained practical engagement with consumers in and out of the home, we are not reinforcing important plastic recycling messages. This will lead to a reduction in awareness and interest over time, fuelling confusion and reducing the effectiveness of collection systems. A position we do not want to be in.