The British Plastics Federation (BPF) and WRAP recently held a joint investors summit exploring opportunities for growth within the UK’s plastics recycling and reprocessing infrastructure. Aimed at senior figures within the investment community, it was attended by 70 people, including representatives from numerous leading investment companies.
Taking place in the London offices of Osborne Clarke, an international legal practice, the event featured presentations from WRAP, the BPF, PlasticsEurope, Berry Global, Circularity Capital and Innovate UK.
The keynote speaker and chair of the event was John Gummer, The Rt Hon. Lord Deben, Chairman of Sancroft and member of the Food and Drink Sector Council. Lord Deben introduced the event by explaining the environmental impact of poorly managed plastic waste and the extent to which the UK needs investment in order to develop an infrastructure capable of sorting and reprocessing its plastic waste.
Representatives from WRAP and the BPF then explained the current opportunities and challenges for plastics recycling within the UK, framing it within the context of wider ongoing developments and planned government initiatives. PlasticsEurope Regional Director Kim Christiansen then explained ongoing developments at a global level as well as providing insights into the EU’s Plastics Strategy. He was followed by Design Manager for Berry Global Brian Lodge, who discussed the demand for various recycled polymers within the UK packaging sector.
Innovate UK Interim Deputy Director for Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Nick Cliffe described how there is strategic funding available to eligible businesses with innovative ideas about improving how plastic waste in managed within the UK. The former CEO of the Ellen McArthur Foundation and a partner at Circularity Capital, Jamie Butterworth, then spoke about the importance of the role of finance and investors as the UK develops its domestic recycling infrastructure.
Lord Deben stated:
Plastics perform a crucially important role in our society but we have to ensure that they don’t do so at the expense of the planet. Recycling, reuse and replacement are the guiding concepts for the industry from now on.
Commenting on the event Director of WRAP UK Peter Maddox stated:
Two thirds of plastic packaging placed on the market in the UK is represented by The UK Plastics Pact members, all of whom are committed to making their plastic packaging recyclable, significantly increasinge the recycling of plastic, and achieving an average of 30% recycled content. The work that is happening in the UK is leading a wave of change globally. With Government policy also coming down the track to incentivise recyclability and recycling, the writing is on the wall. The time to invest in UK recycling is now.
BPF Director General Philip Law added:
It was encouraging to see so many big hitters in one room eager to understand the many opportunities for investing in plastics recycling and waste management. There is certainly understandable interest in this space and the upbeat tone of the evening suggests that the future of the UK plastics recycling sector is bright indeed.
Matt Germain, a partner in Osborne Clarke’s Environment Group, commented:
We were delighted to host this thought-provoking and topical event. We hope that those who attended were provided with further knowledge about the current market situation of recycled plastic in the UK and where the investment opportunities lie within the plastics circular economy.
Investing in a Circular Plastics Economy took place in London on the evening of 8 October 2019.