The trade body has called on the Treasury to work with Defra to introduce measures to address irresponsibly-designed packaging and to encourage the use of recycled material.
It has warned that without intervention to drive up recycling rates, the UK will be left with a shortfall of up to six million tonnes of waste without a home by 2030.
In particular, the association has argued for lower VAT for recycled content, and eco-design rules as part of a suite of measures to help improve the quantity and quality of recycling.
‘Too many of our resources are wasted and we need much stronger action to improve packaging design and encourage the use of recycled materials in products,’ said ESA executive director, Jacob Hayler.
‘Our industry has made huge strides in raising recycling and putting our discarded resources back into productive use. But without intervention, we are worried that decades of progress in managing our resources will begin to reverse. However, with the right policy support, we can extract value from waste to safeguard our natural capital, boost resource productivity, and create thousands of jobs around the country.’
There have been numerous reports in the national press that the chancellor is considering a tax on single-use plastics, such as takeaway boxes and other packaging, as part of tomorrow’s Budget.
Mr Hammond is expected to launch a ‘call for evidence’ from consumers, environmental groups and companies to see whether taxes and charges could be used more widely.
Greenpeace UK’s oceans campaigner, Tisha Brown, said a call for evidence announcement is only ‘a statement of intent’, but it also ‘recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution’.
‘There is a long way to go, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic,’ added Ms Brown.
‘For half a century we’ve been using an almost indestructible material to make single-use, disposable products. This was bound to lead to problems, and we’re starting to discover how big those problems are. Ocean plastipollution is a global emergency, it is everywhere from the Arctic Ocean at top of the world, to the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the Pacific.
‘It’s in whales, turtles and 90% of sea birds, and it’s been found in our salt, our tap water and even our beer.’
The managing director at Swindon-based Recycling Technologies, Adrian Griffiths, commented: ‘The global issue of plastic waste is growing year on year and mechanical recycling techniques are failing to recycle enough plastic here in the UK.
‘Our innovative technology addresses this and chemically recycles mixed plastic waste and turns it back into the oil it came from. Project Beacon in Scotland aims to recycle 90% of household plastic waste by supporting mechanical recycling with a chemical recycling technique from Recycling Technologies.
‘Our government needs to support and encourage more facilities like this to dramatically boost recycling rates of plastic and to reduce the quantities currently sent to the Far East for recycling,’ added Mr Griffiths.
In separate news, the Recycling Association has warned plans by the Chinese government to introduce a 0.5% out-throw limit with be ‘incredibly difficult’.
Last week, the Chinese government notified the World Trade Organisation that it would implement a 0.5% contamination level on waste materials including paper and cardboard, plastics and others apart from 1% that will be allowed for non-ferrous metals.
This level will be adopted on 31 December 2017, but will actually come into force on 1 March 2018.
‘While we welcome the flexibility shown by the Chinese Government in raising the out-throw limit to 0.5% from the original 0.3% that was proposed, this is still a very, very challenging target,’ said the Recycling Association’s president, Adrian Jackson.
‘We would have liked to have seen paper and cardboard given at least the same out-throw target as non-ferrous metals that are allowed 1% contamination.
The Recycling Association understands that the WTO has requested a transition period of five years, and we will be pushing for the Chinese government to give more certainty to the worldwide recycling industry by taking on board this request,’ added Mr Jackson.
‘However, with plastics now banned, apart from a very small amount of post-production material, this should serve as a warning that unless we produce a quality product from other materials, we could risk losing the Chinese market altogether.’
Photo by Martoneofmany