Skip to main content

Plastics: Recycling

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 271396, tabled on 1 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) increase the amount of plastic that is recycled, and (b) improve the UK’s recycling infrastructure.

Answered on

10 July 2019

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December last year, sets out how we will reduce plastic pollution and preserve material resources by minimising waste, increasing recycling rates, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a more circular economy. We have consulted on reforms to household and business recycling collections which are intended to improve the quantity and quality of materials collected for recycling, including plastic, and on proposals to make producers pay the full net cost for dealing with the packaging they put on the market at end-of-life, and on the potential introduction of a deposit return scheme. Her Majesty’s Treasury have also consulted on a world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% recycled material. These reforms should help reduce waste and increase the amount of packaging recycled.

Defra also supports the UK Plastics Pact, a unique collaboration launched by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) that will create a circular economy for plastics. WRAP estimates these members are responsible for over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets, and approximately 50% of the total plastic packaging placed on the UK market.

The Government is also acting to help ensure the right infrastructure is in place to deliver high quality secondary materials for recycling. It is investing around £3 billion of grant funding in waste infrastructure projects. These grants support infrastructure including material recovery, mechanical biological treatment and anaerobic digestion facilities, as well as implementation and expanding kerbside recycling services. It also recently announced £4.7 million of grant funding for recycling infrastructure projects that will help to recycle difficult plastic packaging and textile materials. Further grant opportunities around recycling will follow in due course.