The "2019 Plastics, Packaging & Re-use Act" : what should be in it?

Hi , we all have covered, and probably will further cover, many good concepts and issues regarding the use of plastic and waste management here on these pages. Predominantly regarding the food industry , but also in other areas too. They are just as valuable and pressing in many ways.

I hope you’ll agree, when I put forward the idea that a decent, fit for purpose piece of legislation, or government policies, need to be holistic in nature, far reaching, game changing, clever and morally responsible both for the environment and the British citizen : the normal , tax paying, law abiding individual; especially those forced into unemployent, a change of career or relocation due to the changes brought about by the end of our relationship with plastic.

I want this thread to list elements that we think the government should bring into force; when and in which manner.

Hopefully we can come closer to defining the HOW of achieving a better, sustainable future…

As a footnote :

  1. our transition to a greener society can and should be a springboard for new business and manufacturers. Let’s come out of this Brexit mess strong, independent and vibrant… :wink:

  2. our success ( phasing plastic out to the very, very minimum) will occur in stages & we need to set out realistic but serious deadlines. If a degree can be done in 3 years, then a paid team or department in a company can design a transition plan and souce , where applicable, a plastic alternative and /or long term reusable, returnable container and plan out thier factory’s transition (s) and changes in logistics. In 5 years , roll-out should be complete, even for challenging items. There I feel I am being generous.
    Inreally think that 12 Months is adequate.
    Or do we ask every company to submit an appraisal of thier own transition assessment? Probably fairer & they do know thier own situation best I guess.

  3. There will naturally be caveats. I think general agreement is selected medical, scientific and electronic uses. An independent ( i.e. free from commercial lobbying ) government unit will need to be tasked with reviewing applications for continued plastic production & use. And that allowance must be reviewed periodically to see if a market alternative is now available.

Would any of you like to commentin more detail what will probably need to be allowed.
Things like bottle teats & dummies ?

Below are my ideas. Please comment on a disagreement / suggestion for re-wording and, of course !! , please add elements that you feel should also be included. I haven’t made it through all the threads, but endeavour to.

I fear I may have bitten off more than I chew :wink: & i hope i wasn’t presumptuous in suggesting & writing this thread

The 2019 Plastics, Packaging and Reuse Act.

1 ) long term goal is no more plastic packaging , or plastic , in our society . The reason being is that plastic is a pollutant; the creation and ‘recycling’ of which causes further environmental degredation. All plastic ends up as landfill or needs to be incinerated. It cannot be indefinitely recycled and reused.

  1. acceptable packaging and product elements are compostable, organic ones, or metal, tin, glass or stone / earthenware.

  2. return stations for metal and glass containers will be created across the UK , in most, if not all , shopping outlets. Consumers will receive a standardised amount of money for each item, this will be clearly indicated on each the item. This credit can be used immediately in store, or paid out in cash. Like in Germany, for example.

  3. Sterilizing and redistribution centres will be created across the UK. The goal is to keep transportation emmissions to a minimum , ideally there will be ones with rail access and no packaging item should be required to travel outside it’s council area. Each council ( management district ?/ per head population density ?) needs it’s own Sterilizing and Redistribution/ Pick-up facilities. These are for small businesses just as much as large businesses . … however large brands most notably dairy, will probably have to transport jars over larger distances. They would be the ones to move over to e-trucks.

  4. Funding, tax breaks, preferential treament , free or cheap training, lower rents, consulting or advisory services will be provided for the following things & the level of financial support will be means tested .i.e the poorer you are: the more help you get. Start-ups and small to medium sized companies will be actively encouraged in these areas:
    i ) alternative packaging producers
    ii) new & transioning farmers of crops for packaging and plastic -replacement-product production
    iii) sustainable living / zero waste related business

  5. education & training, degrees, research, vocational studies and retraining in the following fields will be heavily subsidised, if not free to participate in :
    i) environmentally & ecologically friendly agriculture for crop production for packaging purposes
    ii) mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering studies & production and plant management related studies relevant for glass and metal and organic processing, sterilizing and organic packaging creation

  6. those made unemployed due to the transition to a plastic free economy such as via the closure of plastic production businesses or removal of packaging departments, will have the right to unemployment benefits for the first year irrelevant of thier personal financial status. Thereafter the 'normal ’ system of unemployment benefits will kick in.
    They will recieve support in finding new employment or prefential loans/ small grants ( for those with no assets) to start a new business. If they are able & want to retrain, they should recieve a grant and/ or a very low interest student loan & maintenence loan to do so. This will have the caveat that repayments begin over a certain earning threshold ( 23,000 annual net? ) and can never exceed a certain percentage of thier earnings.
    If they, with thier immediate family, need to relocate to another part of the UK to take alternate employment, they should be aided in any way possible, including financially in the case of low income families and those with no substantial financial assets, e.g. lower rent for the first
    12 months. The money from the sale of thier original home may not be counted as a financial asset ! They need that to buy another, new home, cover emergency expenditures etc.

  7. Import taxation on plastic containing products and packaging & taxation on plastic produced and sold in the U.K. :revenue creation for the ‘costs of transition’.

9)the transition phases / timeline / road map

End of 2019
Government to issue clear statement on what can be recycled : a number and a corresponding colour code ( which will be introduced across the board on all plastic produced and / or on sale within 2 months of the document being published) . The colour coding will make it near impossible to incorrectly sort.

Inform all buisnesses using / making plastic and the general public that plastics starting from now will be clearly labelled using a nationally standardised colour coding system to allow correct sorting post consumption. Sorting is mandatory and people & companies are subject to fines for incorrect disposal and littering.

Currently not recyled elements must be phased out. There will be a 6 month grace period. Thereafter penalties will be levied at £1 per Item containing non-recylable elements with an additional 50 Pence per 1 gram ( rounded up) of plastic / non -recyclable weight.
( what about polystyrene?)

Only up to half of this penatly tax may be passed onto the consumer.

Starting 1st of May the taxation on non recyclables will begin.
Tax will be increased monthly by an addition 50 pence per unit and per gram.
During 2020 all councils will have revamped thier collection schemes so that they handle all materials listed by the government.
Each council will have procured / created a storage and sorting centre for waste. This could be outsourced to a ( new) business
By the end of 2020 the gov. should set out a containment plan for non organic waste, non recyclable waste. I’m thinking something along the lines of ecobricking ? … shred,compress and encase, use for insulation, making park benches, bus shelters, massive plant pots for innercity re-greening projects… just stop it going in to the food chain / our soil and water
Here I assum EFRA will be tasked with a scientic review of what can be done with the waste that we have.

The general public will be encouraged to bring thier own containers to shops to be refilled.

School curriculum will be updated to include comprehensive, compulsory coverage of environmental and ecological issues. Ethics, responsibility , morality and innovation should feature as part of the course with practical, hands on on as well as visitations to water and waste processing plants, litter picking outings, poster design on, for example over fishing, climate change, veganism , manufacturing processes, water pollution, air pollution.

Manufacturers , where applicable, will be encouraged to just provide thier product in a large barrel , so consumers can refill thier containers.

Make up providers , for example, will probably need to develop thier own reusable container.

Councils will be publishing data on the ammount & type of all waste groups, that they process monthly.

End of 2021
Recyling plants, containment facilities , glass production, metal processing plants , pilot crop growing should be nearing completion or be in full swing

End of 2022
?most, if not all companies should have thier transition plan near completion, if not completed.

End of 2023
review and update of these measures?

I hope for TV’s, Computers, Radios, Car interiors , mobile phones , ipads …et c all to have outer shells made from organic materials.
And : that things can be repaired & updated.
An end to this throw away culture

I also hope that the UK becomes significantly more self-sufficient


Well summarised and thought out, Jennifer. Thank you. In addition:

  • There need to be temporary exceptions allowed for disability uses. For example straws for those unable to drink without one.
  • This forum, or a similar one, should be set up for (a) reporting violations (b) crowd-sourcing solutions to intransigent issues © highlighting where additional exceptions and exemptions need to occur
  • There needs to be a legal and clear definition of terms such as “re-usable” and “home compostable” and “compostable” to ensure that manufacturers and retailers do not come up with “creative solutions”
  • It needs to be a colour and letter/number code (preferably also in braille) to help those whose vision is impaired

In terms of polystyrene, there are already alternatives. Lush uses cardboard boxes filled with corn-starch “peanuts” that can be composted, or simply flushed with water. This would also work for large electronic items. Previously, when these were made locally, instead of being shipped around the world, they wouldn’t have had ANY packaging. Just treated with care. Re-usuable wooden pallets, shaped to fit, and returned on delivery might be an option.

The issue of local v global also needs to be addressed. It is beneficial to shareholders to manufacture where labour cost is lowest, but this has significant social and environmental implications. Reducing transport distance reduces the packaging requirement. Not just for produce but all products. There should be tax incentives for local production based on distance, but whether we remain in the EU, leave, or default to WTO rules, this will require global co-operation and incentives and is probably outside the scope of this forum.

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Especially polystyrene!

Good blueprint, Jennifer Reeves.

Councils will need seed funding to expand their waste collections and facilities to cope with the additional calls made upon them.

Agreed - there are lots of alternatives to polystyrene, at least where it’s used as padding inside cardboard boxes. Shredded card/cardboard, corn starch “peanuts”, scrunched-up newspaper (also solves the problem of newspaper recycling).
Also I back your idea of a forum for ideas and “crowd-policing”, though I believe compliance needs to be monitored by an independent audit body, which will hopefully accept reports from individuals of any violations/bad practice.

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To add - I think the best solution to packaging for highly perishable foods (e.g. meat, fish, cheese, etc.) should be a return to counter service. To minimise food waste, ideally, customers should be incentivised to pre-order these foods with good notice - say, a week in advance, so shops can stock near enough exact amounts, or a higher price will be charged. While food counters will require shops and supermarkets to hire more staff which will, no doubt, affect pricing, there will be a net benefit to the economy from more people in employment.

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Totally with you. It is the best solution.

Brilliant, now lets put it into action