A positive step for plastics – the Plastics Treaty

A positive step for plastics – the Plastics Treaty

A blog post by Managing Director, Travis Way 

Each year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single use. It is fantastic to hear that 200 countries have now agreed to start negotiations on an international agreement to act on the plastics crisis. UN members will come together to agree a framework for reducing plastic waste from across the world.

This, alongside other legislation that is starting to come through are all signs of a positive shift when it comes to our over reliance on plastic.  Extended Producer Responsibility is set to be coming into force in 2023 and will provide a new standard for UK packaging waste. Shifting responsibility of waste plastics put out on the market will encourage businesses to focus on shrinking waste and increasing recycling to create a healthier and sustainable planet for all. Linked to this is Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which is set to go live in Scotland in August 2023. We are already seeing DRS infrastructure such as reverse vending machines starting to roll out this year by way of preparation.

Our latest innovative range of reverse vending machines, EcoVend, are designed and developed based on the learnings from our European neighbours who have already implemented a DRS.  Before 2003, In Germany circa 3 billion disposable beverage containers were dumped in the environment every year and now the country boasts a returns rate of above 98 per cent.

There are two types of bottles in Germany’s deposit system. The first, which have producer-set deposit prices ranging from €0.08 to €0.25, can be reused multiple times and can be made from glass or PET plastic. The second are single-use containers, which as the name suggests, are only used once before they’re recycled. On these, the deposit price is fixed by the government at €0.25. Though for consumers, the deposit system is a simple case of putting empties into a reverse vending machine, what happens thereafter is a bit more complex.

Which option is better for the environment?

Both deposit systems for reusable and single-use bottles saves raw materials, energy and CO2 emissions — as it reduces the fossil fuels used to produce new bottles. However, environmentalists say that reusable bottles are generally more environmentally friendly than single-use packaging. Moving forward and into the future we strongly believe all products can be reusable, and that’s ultimately what we want and where we want to be.

How can you prepare?

This month, Circularity Scotland Limited, the Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s DRS selected Reverse Logistics Group (RLG) as the preferred implementation partner to deliver the IT solution to manage the scheme in Scotland. People pay a small deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container and then get the deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.

For businesses, there is a lot of change coming so it is wise to start preparing now by considering what plastics your business producers, how much of it is made from recycled content and how much is released onto the market – and your level of responsibility to provide consumers with a return route. Even if taxes don’t hit you directly, there is likely to be a knock on effect from suppliers up the chain who will take the brunt of the increases.