Industrial Strategy recycling plan requires packaging to be made simple to recycle

By Paul Sanderson

Today the Government published its long-awaited Industrial Strategy and the section on recycling is ambitious. 

But is this ambition realistic? 

We have a number of clients in the recycling sector, but also work with manufacturers too, so the Industrial Strategy is obviously of interest. 

For the recycling sector, it calls for the introduction of a circular economy. Great, but there was no detail on this. 

It also wants to see “raising the resource productivity of businesses, including through the promotion of recycling and strong secondary materials markets where products are designed with efficiency and recyclability in mind”. 

In my view, to create strong secondary markets, it is absolutely essential to design packaging that can be easily recycled in the first place. 

Give a member of the public a steel or aluminium can or a cardboard box and they almost always know it can be recycled. Give them a multi-material food pouch and they really aren’t sure whether they can or not. Simple wins. 

As Simon Ellin, the chief executive of The Recycling Association (one of our clients), always says, we have got to put quality first when it comes to recycling. Quality is vital as contamination makes the products harder, sometimes impossible, to recycle. 

The best way to get that quality is to have packaging that is easy for the public to understand whether they can recycle it or not. 

Let’s hope that when the Government eventually publishes its new strategy for resources and waste, it recognises that the biggest win will come from designing and manufacturing products that can be easily recycled.