British Plastics Federation urges recognition from government

Posted on 20 Mar 2024 by The Manufacturer

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has published its election manifesto, calling for greater recognition of the industry, measures to support the plastic packaging and recycling industries, and longer-term support to ensure that the UK remains competitive. The document is being sent to all major political parties, MPs and key stakeholders.

Recognition as a vital industry

The UK plastics industry is a sector of strategic importance for national and economic security and the BPF is calling for the plastics sector to be more clearly recognised by government as a ‘foundation industry’. This is a term the UK government uses to identify industries that are vital to manufacturing and construction. Plastic is used in almost every sector of the UK economy and virtually all areas of manufacturing and distribution. It is essential in the supply of food and water, the construction of energy-efficient buildings, in healthcare, in transportation and a large swathe of infrastructure, which is why the BPF is calling for this recognition.

Improving the management of used plastic

The BPF is also calling for an acceleration of reforms to help the plastics industry reach greater circularity whilst maximising its potential. It would like to see the UK’s plastic recycling infrastructure expanded and improved from funds raised by the Plastics Packaging Tax. It is also pressing for mass balance to become accepted, so that plastic packaging that has been chemically recycled can be counted as recycled material within the Plastics Packaging Tax. The trade association believes this will allow chemical recycling technologies to receive the investment needed to scale up and for that sector to expand.

As well as urgently calling for clarity on the scheme for Extended Producer Responsibility, the BPF wants the government to accelerate its plans to reform and improve waste collection, as well as implementing a Deposit Return Scheme.

Developing long-term competitiveness

With the industry having experienced a yawning skills gap for many years, the BPF is urging the government to provide support for businesses struggling to source appropriate expertise, while also reviewing how effective the apprenticeship levy has been.

The plastics industry would also like to see regulatory alignment with the EU, where it makes sense, so that trade barriers are minimised. To support the growth of international trade, reintroducing funding to support businesses wishing to attend overseas tradeshows is also necessary, the BPF states.

To assist with improving productivity and reducing carbon emissions, the government is also asked to provide more grants to help companies access more energy-efficient machines.

BPF Director General, Philip Law said: “Our industry is so vital to the UK economy and is of undeniable strategic importance, as well as being an invaluable asset for the country, so we want it to be rightfully acknowledged as a ‘foundation industry’. It deserves nothing less. We also desperately need to develop the UK’s recycling infrastructure, and for proposed reforms to packaging legislation to come to fruition quickly. In particular, it is quite inexplicable that there has been no response yet to a consultation on mass balance that took place last July.

“Like all major industries with complex stakeholder networks in a rapidly changing world, we require government cooperation to effectively address issues such as the management and recycling of used plastic, and accessing the best talent, technology and new markets.”

The BPF is the UK’s leading trade association for plastics, with nearly 600 member companies. Companies within its membership include manufacturers of raw materials, machinery suppliers, plastics processors, as well as plastic recyclers.

Click to view the BPF’s election manifesto

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