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Well, that’s it – UK plastics has to achieve the impossible

By Anthony Clark
Posted 29 November 2012

Despite the best efforts of the BPF and Pafa the government has pressed ahead and set ‘impossible’ recycling targets for plastics.

Government recycling policy being discussed.

What next, I wonder? Perhaps the coalition would like to mandate the creation of a perpetual motion machine and antigravity paint, too, while it’s about it? After all, it seems to believe that just because something’s impossible that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

At a time when recycling should be becoming a non-issue – it’s already happening after all – it’s back on the top of the plastics agenda… for all the wrong reasons. What should be seen as a success story has been converted into an imminent failure by a government that simply doesn’t get the facts.

But just you watch – UK plastics will be criticised for not meeting the new recycling targets; labelled tardy and uncooperative and all because it couldn’t do what it said it couldn’t do because it’s currently impossible.

It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

"There's no use trying," Alice said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

The government appears to be in the same state of mind.

Comment on this article.


Patrick Ellis - I know him since ages - is completely right with his comment, although I must confess that time now is becoming shorter and shorter to achieve, what the EU "Waste Frame Work Directive"(WFD, issued in 2008 and had to be transfered into national laws latest Dec. 2010 in all member states) clearly requests and what has perhaps been ignored/not seen in the past for too long.

Here in Austria we have a ban of landfill since 2004(2008) hence meanwhile recover/recycle 98% of waste (not only plastics) hence set benchmark in plastics recycling technology every other day (Erema, Starlinger....), supply it worldwide with great success and can show everybody, how it became possible over the years. Of course this means investment into collection systems, recycling machinery, development in application of such recyclates etc.

Governments have the duty to create positive conditions and grant subsidies for the respective industry and make everybody aware, that even waste remains an enourmous value, when treated logically and sensefully (which additionally creates new jobs). Waste is by far too valuable to be landfilled - and there is a good number of UK enterprises (recyclers like Axion, Luxury...) knowing that quite well.

As I was a youngster, my first technical education experiance was: "Doesn`t work...doesn`t exist" - you just have to investigate/develop the best and clever way to realise......

- 17 December 2012 - Leopold Katzmayer

The British government is to be congratulated on its brave stand point vis-a-vis recycling, rather than the opposite. Recycling is not only a moral obligation, but also an economice necessity. Throwing away millions of pounds sterling every year is frankly rank stupidity. If the EU can set a target for the automotive industry of 85% by 2015, then the least EU members can do is to try to set such a target for overall waste. I have said in the past that 75% is a viable target for plastics waste recycling and am now convinced that 80% should be the target by 2017, given current technology. Europe possesses a fortune in land-fill waste and this rich resource (containing large amounts of plastics and rubber)should be the top of any government's agenda, given the economic crisis. It is high time that the British plastics and rubber industries realised this and instead of moaning, they should make every effort possible to match the Austrians, Swedes and the Dutch who somehow, strangely enough, do not see the impossibility of the situation.

- 29 November 2012 - Patrick Ellis

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