20 December 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Green businesses have welcomed the government's Resources and Waste Strategy announced this week, but say that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) must go further on mandatory recycling policies.
DS Smith, the UK's largest paper recycler, said the government's proposed Resources and Waste Strategy was positive but needed to be clearer on new investment in infrastructure.
Jochen Behr, head of recycling at DS Smith, said: "A year on from Blue Planet II, it is disappointing that we continue to produce household waste faster than we can recycle it. 2018 has been a turbulent year for recycling as now, for the first time we are set to incinerate more than we recycle.
"Stagnating recycling rates demand a bold new approach, so we welcome the strategy's commitment to overhaul our waste system and take steps towards building a circular economy."
However, he said the public remains confused by the UK's 150 or more different household waste collection methods.
"While we welcome the consultation on collection consistency, we need equal focus on how as well as what we collect in England, particularly the separate collection of paper and card, which the evidence shows helps consumers to recycle more and drives up material quality.
"Society is changing rapidly, with more cardboard and plastic packaging coming into our homes than ever before. In response, we need to rethink our recycling infrastructure and back this with more investment - the proposed reform to the Packaging Waste Regulations should drive this. We stand ready to work with government and industry to help reverse our declining recycling rates and keep precious resources in use for longer."
Every year DS Smith manufactures 16 billion boxes and manages a total of 5 million tonnes of recycled material. It can make, collect, recycle and reuse cardboard boxes in under 14 days.
DS Smith states that it is committed to achieve 100 per cent reusable or recyclable packaging by 2025 and is working with industry to solve how to collect ecommerce packaging more efficiently and reprocess hard-to-recycle products like coffee cups.
Vegware, global specialist in plant-based compostable food service packaging, said it also welcomed the strategy, and added that "if the details are delivered correctly, [the plans] can bring huge sustainability improvements to packaging and recycling".
"The strategy calls out the important differences between 'biodegradable', 'compostable' and 'oxo-degradable' materials, and we will be contributing to Defra's work to develop understanding in this area. All Vegware's products meet existing international standards for compostability, EN13432 and ASTM D6400."