All packaging sold in the UK should have to be 50% recycled by 2025 to encourage manufacturers to “harvest” rubbish from consumers, a waste and resource management company has urged.
And a “pay-as-you-throw” system for household black bin rubbish should be phased in by 2030 as part of a “revolution” in boosting recycling and efficient use of materials, Suez said.
Improving the way in which the country uses and recycles products and packaging could generate £9 billion for the economy, Suez predicts.
The call comes as a poll reveals that almost a quarter of people feel sandwich packaging or fast food containers are the main cause of litter, while almost a fifth (18%) think crisp packets and sweet wrappers are most to blame.
And one in seven (14%) thought plastic bottles were the main problem, the poll by YouGov for Suez found.
The company believes its proposals for tackling waste, which also include taxes that boost recycled content in packaging, a “deposit return scheme” for plastic drinks bottles and cans, and better design will help tackle these “on the go” causes of litter – which often end up polluting the seas.
In its “manifesto” for cutting waste and improving how the UK uses and reuses materials, the company said it wants to see the introduction of bins with microchips that can be weighed.
If the change came alongside a series of measures to make products easier to recycle, this could allow for charges for black bin rubbish to be brought in, encouraging homes and businesses to recycle more and cutting waste.
Suez wants producers to contribute more to the costs of collecting and recycling their products, such as coffee pods or pet-food pouches, and for them to operate refundable deposit systems for cans and plastic bottles.
The deposit scheme charging consumers a levy on their bottles or cans – which they can reclaim by returning them for recycling – should apply to on-the-go plastic drinks bottles less than 750 ml, and drinks cans, and the deposit should be set at 10p.
Other measures include making all products and packaging on the market technically and affordably recyclable by 2030, and changes to the way recycling is measured, shifting from weight to impacts on the environment, to encourage local councils in picking up more material.
There should be a tax on using new or “virgin” materials for packaging – but not recycled materials – and the Government should mandate that 50% of all packaging on average should be recycled by 2025.
Better design of packaging, using common materials, would make it easier to recycle, and targets should be set to halve food waste by 2030, the manifesto urges.
Suez chief executive David Palmer-Jones said: “We envisage a revolution, where the notion of ‘waste’ is consigned to the bin and, instead, we truly value the materials flowing around the economy.
“Taking care of the environment makes economic sense too and we estimate could add £9 billion to the UK economy – placing this issue at the heart of a modern industrial strategy.
“We believe innovative new systems will arise to capture, recycle, re-use and re-form materials if packaging manufacturers are required by law to have 50% minimum recycled content in their products and adhere to common design standards. ”
He said households would be more motivated to recycle if kerbside recycling was simplified, and data was needed to track the progress of materials through the system.
“Weighing individual businesses and households’ residual waste through a ‘chip-and-bin’ system will help gather this data and could enable more ‘pay-as-you throw’ regimes, helping households and businesses which recycle well to reduce their council taxes or waste collection bills,” he said.