David Palmer Jones, chief executive of Suez, has called for the government to ‘holistically’ tackle the problem of plastic pollution in the natural environment.
Responding to Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s plan to ban the sale of plastic ‘microbeads’ in products, outlined on Friday (21 July), the Suez chief executive said that although the ban showed “encouraging leadership” the government has an opportunity to “introduce progressive policies” which would aid the capture of the material for recycling.
He added that the recycling sector has called for a “holistic, long-term, strategy from government” to tackle the environmental issues caused by plastic products and “not just those products that capture the public’s attention from time-to-time”, explaining that microbeads are just the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of plastic pollution.
The Government’s ban on the sale and manufacture of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products will come later this year, helping to prevent these tiny pieces of plastic from ending up being ingested by marine life.
Mr Palmer-Jones explained that he would like to see the government recognise all plastics and other recyclable materials as “valuable commodities” by tying them to the UK’s industrial strategy and domestic manufacturing base.
“If society and businesses value the material, it won’t be discarded and end up in our oceans,” said Mr Palmer-Jones.
He also stressed the importance of governments ‘nudging’ producers to take responsibility for their packaging – citing the recent success of the 5p plastic carrier bag charge (see letsrecycle.com story).
Mr Palmer-Jones said: “…for example, in the case of plastic bottles, by using more recycled content and introducing deposit return schemes which give appropriate incentives to consumers to return their bottles to the manufacturer – instead of discarding them and potentially losing the value forever.”
More than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been created since the 1950s with only 9% of the waste plastic has been recycled, according to research published last week by the University of Georgia and the University of California.
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Source: letsrecycle.com Waste Managment