As a responsible manufacturer of plastics, Spectra were only too happy to accept the BBC’s invitation to take part and help present a balanced view on the subject.
Presented by journalist Jon Wright with Jo Salter from Where Does It Come From and Mel Menhams from Cupboard Love, the programme featured a cross-section of contributors.
Those participating along with Joe Maynard included Jason Alexander, widely acclaimed for his innovative environmental work and beach clean campaigns and writer Liz Ferretti, who told how she spent a year living without plastic. The show also had a contribution from Sandy Martin, Labour MP for Ipswich and shadow minister for waste and recycling who is also on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.
The programme covered a broad range of subjects related to the impact of plastics, including the need for changes in consumer behaviour, more government intervention and legislation and the limitations of current UK waste management infrastructure.
There were many questions raised during the broadcast on how to improve levels of recycling with Joe raising the point that there needed to a reduction in the number of different types of plastics being used for packaging products. He stated,
“We need to reduce the number of different types of plastic to make it more economical to recycle and make it easier for consumers confused about what can and can’t be recycled. Local authorities with the help of government really need to bring in line a standard to give consumers more clarity. Confusingly, even recycling bins are different colours in different parts of the UK”.
Sandy Martin MP reiterated this point by adding,
“When the government brought out its waste strategy white paper earlier in the year it was stressed that there needed to be uniformity across the country and a need to be more supportive to local authorities trying to do the right thing. We need to be working towards only using plastics that can be recycled and ensure we then recycle them”.
When asked as to why more packaging couldn’t contain 100% recycled plastic Joe was quick to point out that although many of his customers do use the maximum amount, current levels of recycled stock on the market wouldn’t be able to meet demand if everyone did the same at this moment in time.
One suggestion put forward during the debate was to see everything made using 80% recycled content and 20% virgin materials.
Joe responded to the suggestion by saying,
“The government target is to make everything with 30% recycled content, and I believe this is fairly realistic. Although challenging, it is achievable. I would love to see it at 80%, however, sadly there simply isn’t enough recycled content to go around”.
The programme concluded that there was still much to be done to reduce levels of virgin plastics and improve waste management in the UK, with a general consensus that there needed to be more legislation, inspiration, innovation and education to meet the challenge.
As mentioned in the programme, Spectra believes it is taking this challenge seriously with a range of schemes such as including 10% recycled content in their plastic bottles, encouraging its customers to embrace sustainable options. Also, the firm continues to look at other measures, including signing up to environmental initiatives, managing its waste responsibly and working closely with recycled material suppliers.
Joe said after the broadcast,
“As a plastics manufacturer we cannot ignore our duty in doing our bit. Participating in programmes such as these illustrates that we are not prepared to shy away from the debate and will endeavour to meet the challenges that lay ahead”.