England needs to implement ‘significant change’ to the way that plastic packaging is recycled if it is to meet its aim of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2043, a report has suggested.
The report – Plastic packaging – How do we get to where we want to be? – found that the cost of collecting and managing waste under the current system meant that some local authorities were forced to tie themselves to contracts as long as 25 years to make it economically viable.
The researchers from Brunel University London and the University of Leeds argue that a reduction in the cost burden on local authorities, through a fairer distribution of value in the system, can incentivise long-term investment but that regulatory and technological ‘locked-ins’ need to be confronted.
The researchers point to the UK’s departure from the EU as a ‘significant challenge’ to meeting their ambitions, but also an opportunity to implement the required changes as the government decouples itself from European regulation. They say this calls for orchestrating processes and structures in the entire value chain.
The report proposes new metrics for the government to use when monitoring and assessing their success against the 2043 target. The metrics are based on environmental, economic, social and technical factors, and researchers say they will better enable a systemic assessment of the plastic packaging system.
Dr Eleni Iacovidou, a Lecturer in Environmental Management at Brunel, who led the study said: ‘Innovation in the waste and recycling industry is really swift, but our local authorities cannot take advantage under the current system.
‘The complexity of the plastic packaging system means that there is no one perfect solution to the many problems that plague the plastic packaging system, and that a number of targeted, informed ways of addressing these issues is needed. The CVORR framework helps us to understand these problems and find solutions in a much clearer, joined-up way.’
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