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Don’t ditch plastic recycling

26 October 2020

The focus on eliminating single-use plastics and promoting closed-loop packaging has fallen off the agenda in the devastating wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Jim Hardisty, MD of Goplasticpallets.com – The Responsible Plastic Pallet Company explains why we should still be optimistic about the future of plastics recycling.

The production and use of plastics across the globe is growing rapidly with no sign of weakening. Without a recycling solution, this plastic waste is bound for landfill and incinerators. Fortunately, the global recycling industry has a history of transforming what was previously “unrecyclable” into useful products; and is poised to do so again.

Take paper for example. As far back as 1801, England set the record for developing the first mill able to produce paper sustainably. British inventor Matthias Koops came up with the first practical processes for manufacturing paper from wood pulp, straw, or recycled wastepaper, without the necessity of including expensive linen or cotton rags.

In many respects, plastics present a similar problem. Manufacturers developed them without any plan for disposal or recycling. Yet thanks to heightened awareness of ocean pollution and other negatives associated with single-use plastics, manufacturers, regulators and innovators are finally paying attention.

Sadly, those corporate CSR efforts to reduce single-use plastics that started gaining momentum in 2020 have greatly fallen by the wayside in recent months. And understandably so, given the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic with lockdown forcing businesses into remote working and social distancing overnight.

But in the last few weeks there have been positive signs that plastic recycling is returning to the business agenda.

In September, more than 80 European brands including PepsiCo, P&G and Mondi announced their collaboration in the HolyGrail 2.0 project, backing the use of “digital watermarks” to improve the sorting of recyclable packaging; L’Oréal confirmed that bottles of Paris Elvive will be made from 100% recycled plastic; and Lidl expanded its commitment to reducing own-label plastic packaging, targeting a 40% reduction by 2025.

As we move into 2021, we are likely to see yet more businesses taking responsibility for the packaging they manufacture and use, with the new Plastic Packaging Tax coming into effect from April 2022, which will apply a tax of £200 per tonne on plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.

For Goplasticpallets.com, 96% of the plastic pallets we supply are already made entirely from recycled plastic and at the end of their long use we promise to collect and recycle them. Despite the hurdles we have faced as a company during the last six months, plastic recycling has remained a constant focus for us.

With our pioneering plastic pallet recycling scheme, in the last 18 months we have recycled 401 tonnes of plastic waste from customers used plastic pallets and boxes. That is the equivalent of approximately 180 Range Rovers, or 150 of Africa’s largest bush elephants.

It is an achievement we are immensely proud of particularly given the challenging times we are all facing. This of course would not have been possible without the continued support of our customers. Whatever the next six months throws at us, one thing remains for sure, we will not ditch plastic recycling!

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