Retailers and brand owners are in danger of being seen as the 'bad guys' for ignoring the recovery of materials they put into the market, relying totally on local authorities to resolve subsequent problems, whether landfill or litter. Where is their producer responsibility?
Consumers want to have confidence in recovery systems and recycle more. Bringing in systems should be a part of this scenario, especially where they are convenient and reward consumers with incentives. Government and many commentators recognise that voluntary recycling will plateau unless incentives are introduced.
European statistics show that footfall and customer loyalty improves where recycling facilities exist, co-located with stores. This provides retailers with a competitive edge and an opportunity for increased sales. It should be particularly attractive for c-stores.
There will be investment required but this should be offset by returns on material value and yield, increased footfalls, reduction in transport where containers are crushed or shredded before recovery, cheaper PRNs (Packaging Waste Recovery Notes) etc.
Any recovery system will divert materials from litter and landfill. This material is needed by reprocessors in Europe to meet a growing demand for increased recycled content in new packaging indeed the latter is now a major marketing point for brand owners.
While a full-blown deposit system may not be appropriate for the UK, the process of recovery points that automatically receive, process and store selected products, guarantee recycling of quality 'clean' used containers while incentivising consumers, should be considered.
Paul Ure, MD, Options Management (a division of Recycling Options)