Majority of UK plastics recyclers vote against Brexit

Voting was cast at PRE show ahead of Thursday's referendum

At the Plastics Recycling Expo (PRE), a conference dedicated specifically for plastics recycling professionals, held last week in Telford, United Kingdom, two-thirds of plastics recyclers voted against Brexit via an innovative platform that highlighted the importance of recycling.

Recoup (Peterborough, UK), the plastics recycling member-based organization, have been using an innovative way to engage consumers about recycling by using a question or debate which the consumer feels passionate about. At PRE visitors and exhibitors were asked whether the UK should ‘Remain’ or ‘Brexit’ from the EU by recycling their empty plastic drink bottles through the voting bins.

Engaging the consumer first on a topic they are interested in enables the recycling message to be delivered in a different way, said Recoup. The organization finds it prompts the consumer to consider what happens to the plastic bottles after they have voted, challenging their recycling behavior both on the go and at home.

The voting bins sparked interesting debate, including mixed views on how the decision would affect future investment in manufacturing facilities, imports and exports, and the recycling industry in the UK. There was a clear winner, with 65% voting to remain in the EU.

Anne Hitch, Communications Manager, of Recoup said: “The Remain and Brexit decision will directly affect how the UK priorities recycling, sustainability and circular economy development, and it was interesting to hear the frank discussion from delegates about the affects the EU referendum could have.”

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee published back in April its report ‘EU and UK Environmental Policy’ which has come out strongly in favor of the UK’s continued membership of the Union.

The Committee claimed: “The overwhelming majority of our witnesses also believed that the UK’s membership of the EU has improved the UK’s approach to environmental protection and ensured that the UK environment has been better protected.”

Additionally the report concluded that a ‘large proportion’ of UK environmental policy is shaped at EU level, with the UK having ‘significant influence’ on the policy making process through the Council of Ministers and through its MEPs.

Responding to the report, David Palmer-Jones, UK Chief Executive of Suez (Berkshire) said that the EU is the “driving force” behind environmental policy that enables companies to invest in new services and infrastructure.

He said: “Should the UK referendum be decided in favor of a Brexit and the UK leave the EU, there is a clear risk that the current EU-led policy drives towards creating a circular economy within the UK will stall or even move back a step, which in turn could have a negative impact on future investment decisions into UK infrastructure.

He added: “The current EU-driven, UK household waste recycling rate target of 50% by 2020 has provided the underpinning for hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into recycling facilities and energy recovery plants, creating to date thousands of jobs in the UK. The EU is now considering a 65% household recycling target for 2030 and if this becomes a legally binding target across member states—including the UK— it would stimulate further investment and jobs in the UK.”

The actual voting on the referendum took place last Thursday with a stunning decision to Brexit.

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