Veolia UK _ Increased recycling content in packaging header

Step 3

Increase recycled content in packaging

Using recyclable content in new products will increase the demand for recycling as well as expand the market for the final material, helping to drive costs down in the process.

Our research demonstrates 93% of people expect recycled content to be in plastic bottles.

There are examples of well-known brands aiming for 20% or 25% recycled content. Milk bottles on average contain 20% - 30% and this is gradually increasing. There is an industry ambition to get 50% for HDPE bottles but the timeline for this is not yet clear.

Our research indicates that 83% of people already think at least half of the material in a bottle is currently recycled content while 55% of people think all or most of the bottle should have recycled content. In reality most manufacturers use virgin plastics.

We have some way to go before industry meets the public's expectations.

Manufacturers are price sensitive. However, over half of all consumers said they were willing to pay on average an extra 2.5p for bottles containing recycled content.

This would raise £325 million annually at current rates of plastic bottle usage in the UK.

What percentage of recycled content do people think is in this bottle?

93% of people expect there to be recycled content in their plastic bottles.

83% of people already think at least half of the material in a bottle is currently recycled content.

53% of people think all or most of the bottle should have recycled content.

Tax on plastic packaging

As recycled content grows it will by scale become comparable in price. Today it needs an edge to compete against virgin materials and therefore a tax for poorly designed packaging would work well, allowing responsible businesses time to move away from non-recyclable or compostable materials.

Reform the packaging recovery note system

There is a growing urgency to develop transparent and reliable markets for recycled content. Now a fantastic opportunity exists for the right policies, such as reform of the PRN system to facilitate investment in domestic infrastructure, which will transform the UK into a world leader of plastics recycling.