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Analysis: plastic waste management in 2019

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Word by HSM’s National Accounts Manager, Phil Wylie

AS LAST year came to a close, it was clear 2018 showed extensive introductions for plastic waste initiatives.

This is a far cry from where the UK has been in previous years – which clearly shows the country is heading in the right direction.

However, that is not to say the UK should hang up its hats. In reality, refining waste management procedures is like a constant game of tug of war. The more the UK ambles, the less likely the country is to win. Therefore, it is time to encourage productivity and yank-back control, for the benefit of both our businesses and the environment.

The fight against plastics

For the first time, scientists have revealed micro-plastics in human bodies. Unsurprisingly, however, the concern about this has always been there. After all, if fish are ingesting plastics within the ever-increasingly plastic-infused oceans, and the public are ingesting the fish, it is not difficult to believe this is the case.

HSM’s National Accounts Manager, Phil Wylie

Ultimately, the world’s population are not only destroying the planet but also causing harm to the public’s health. Many global brands have launched initiatives to try to combat the issue and instil this thinking into the minds of consumers. Recently, Walkers has launched a campaign to help reduce the amount of their crisp packets not being recycled. The company has put into place a number of collection points for empty crisp packets, to ensure and encourage the correct disposal of the packaging.

Some supermarkets, such as Iceland, are also attempting to crackdown on the plastic packaging used on fruit and vegetables. Iceland’s decision to ditch plastic packaging on bananas, which is estimated to save 10 million plastic bags each year. Paper packaging also takes a lot less time to decompose in comparison to plastic, and produces less toxic materials. Paper also proves to be a worthy substitute, as it can be disposed of with waste management solutions such as baling machines.

Although 2018 was a great year in terms of heightening the awareness surrounding plastic pollution, the UK government must take a look at some of the ways to improve waste management practices this year.

Following trends

It’s becoming more industry commonplace for corporations to set carbon footprint reduction targets, while improving recycling rates and addressing wider environmental issues such as deforestation. So, it is important to analyse the biggest upcoming trends.

Legal obligation

More businesses are becoming aware of their legal obligations as packaging producers. If a business – or an individual who’s a part of a group of companies – handled 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year, they are classed as an Obligated Packaging Producer.

What is more, the government is looking to action new plans for manufacturers to pay the full recycling rate costs. This comes as an attempt at cutting down on waste going to landfill.

This means there are a number of rules businesses must follow – including registering officially, meeting their obligation, and obtaining evidence of compliance – but this year may also have businesses facing stricter recycling rules than before.


It is becoming increasingly important to not only state sustainability values. A global study by BBMG and GlobeScan showed for the first time since 2009, more consumers say they have punished companies for their behaviour (28%) than rewarding (26%). Therefore, it is important for businesses to discuss the issues.

The holistic approach

China’s stricter rules on imported materials meant the UK had to shift its longstanding recycling strategies, and as businesses and consumers seek to reduce consumption even further over 2019 – there will be a lot more to take into consideration.

A shift in focus from specific areas of sustainability to a more holistic approach is slowly occurring.

While recycling is high on the agenda, there is a certain emphasis on repurposing materials: for example, there is now a rising popularity with re-using cardboard waste materials, which has been perforated or corrugated to be re-packaged. Because of things like this, there is a notable shift in attitude towards waste as more begin to view it as an opportunity rather than a burden.

Some waste management solutions involving environmental technology, such as baling machines, are also becoming increasingly integrated into waste management practices. The sustainability benefits they invite – coupled with their convenience to use – makes them an attractive option as they also easily align with businesses’ wider core sustainability targets and values.

As the UK makes its way through the first quarter of 2019, businesses are increasingly using waste as a resource. Waste management no longer needs to be interpreted as a hindrance, but rather an opportunity to strengthen corporate sustainability values and develop business’ aims alongside these values.

Establishing a sustainable waste management system is no longer just a tick in the corporate social responsibility box. Businesses are now incorporating new strategies and plans for the betterment of customer value, long-term stability and the environment.