The public and private sectors will convene in Telford next week to debate the pressing challenges and opportunities presented by plastics recycling at the Plastics Recycling Expo. Taking place at the Telford International Centre on 18 and 19 June, Europe’s first and only exhibition and conference dedicated to plastics recycling will help to dispel many myths about plastic and the environment and build the case for the role of recycled plastics in a circular economy.
Manufacturers, reprocessors, local authorities, retailers, designers and recycling organisations will all share their expertise and a special address will be given by Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries.
The event has been launched in partnership with Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE). "With a growing concern about the environment and the revised legislation on the waste recycling targets that is to be introduced by the European Commission by the end of 2014, it is a perfect moment hold the Plastics Recycling Expo," explains PRE President, Ton Emans. "This exhibition and conference will strengthen the position of plastic recyclers and enhance their visibility on the plastics market in Europe. It will embrace the whole value chain of plastics recycling and will give an exposure to new trends and new technologies within recycling."
Andrew Bird, Chairman of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, who is chairing part of the conference programme aimed at councils, believes there is still some way to go to encourage households to recycle their plastic packaging. He says: "The breadth and quantity of plastic collections that local authorities now offer is impressive and contributes to good levels of recycling. However the recycling rates do not match the 75% level people claim to be recycling. So whilst people realise that recycling is a good thing they do not always follow that through with actions."
David Baker, General Manager, RPC Containers UKSC, who is due to speak at the conference, warns that changes must be made quickly if the UK is to meet the Government recycling targets by 2017: "The entire supply chain needs to work together, from the collection of used plastics by local authorities, through recyclers, converters, brand owners, retailers and finally consumers."
Roger Baynham, Chairman, British Plastics Federation Recycling Group, agrees: "The biggest misconception is that because we have historically met plastic recycling targets, too many people assume that it is ‘job done’. The reality is that to date the UK has not fully grasped the opportunity to create a sustainable plastic recycling sector to create low carbon jobs and wealth for the future, and that too many of the drivers currently in place undermine the delivery of resource efficiency and the aspirations of a circular economy."
Moves to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or being exported have helped to develop an industry of considerable potential, with companies across the plastics sector finding ways to make more of the opportunities that post-consumer plastics waste – and also industrial scrap – can offer. Meanwhile manufacturers, designers in plastic and retailers are seeking to factor into a finished product how it might be re-used once it has served its primary purpose.
"The plastic and plastic recycling industry is one of the most innovative and fastest changing sectors in the UK and Europe," says Stuart Foster, Chief Executive of Recoup. "A platform is needed to bring together the knowledge, experience and debate, and the Plastics Recycling Expo provides that opportunity. The timing of this event could not be better."
Gareth Hollinshead, Key Account Manager – Plastics, Waste & Resources Action Programme (also speaking) says he is looking forward to hearing what the industry has to say: "Discussing the successes and challenges of using recycled plastics helps us increase usage of reprocessed resins and assist forward-thinking businesses getting in early – because the future of the industry will increasingly be built around a market for recycled plastics."
Other speakers include The Coca-Cola Company’s Director of Environment & Water Resources Europe, Dr Klaus P. Stadler, who will present on the PlantBottle, a fully recyclable PET bottle made from plant sources, and Ford’s first-ever car interior made from PlantBottle packaging. Mark Ellis, Manager Materials Design and Test at Nissan’s Technical Center Europe will present on recycled plastic material applications within the automotive industry, revealing the challenges the company has faced and innovations it has introduced. Ben Gerry, General Manager and Dan Jordan, Recycling Line General Manager at Boomerang Plastics will discuss the latest challenges and technological developments in recycling packaging for leading food brand Muller.