A new tax is being introduced on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content in 2022. The tax will provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging. Currently, there is no existing standard method to determine the recycled content of a product which means upon the launch of the new tax, it is difficult to enforce it practically.

The Scottish Plastic Recycling Centre of Excellence Ltd (SPRCoE) has recently won a £750,000 government contract to kick start Project RECORD.  It will include the development of a new industry-led standard, working with the British Standards Institution (BSI). The development of this standard is crucial to ensure companies are taxed appropriately in proportion to the virgin plastic content used in products. This is as part of the efforts to reduce the use of virgin plastics. Project Record is motivated to create greater demand for recycled material by providing a standard to verify claims. Subsequently, it can stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, thus reducing pressure on landfill or incineration.

This contract is awarded by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), and SPRCoE will be leading seven other industry-leading consortium partners, including Impact Solutions, Ecosurety, Winton Material Science, University of Strathclyde: Advanced Materials Research Laboratory, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and, Durham University. SPRCoE and project partner, Impact Solutions have already demonstrated the feasibility to identify the percentage of recycled content in Polypropylene, Polyethylene and Polyethylene terephthalate using conventional test equipment. This includes, looking into the thermal histories, additive inclusion and other properties of the packaging. The combined expertise and state-of-art testing facilities of Project RECORD’s consortium will accelerate the research and development of a technical method that will allow spot checking and verification of claims. It will further optimise the due diligence process in conjunction with financial and record auditing. SPRCoE have revealed that they aim to provide an accreditation scheme post-project in order to support the plastic packaging industry.

To power the UK’s economic recovery from the impact of coronavirus, there is a total of £200 million to fund innovative ideas where new sustainable opportunities are created to align with UK’s long-term goal to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. 

Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan commented: 

“Reaching our net zero goal will mean harnessing the innovation and creativity of entrepreneurs across the country, which is why I am thrilled to see Innovate UK backing these excellent projects across the UK.

It is precisely this kind of ingenuity which will help us to build back greener from the pandemic. I look forward to seeing how these projects make the most of this funding in the months and years ahead.”

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