Recycling plastics: is The UK behind the rest of Europe?


Courtesy of Wrights Plastics Ltd.

Plastics aren’t renowned for their green credentials in the UK and the statistics back this up, with recent figures showing that the UK sends over two thirds of its plastic waste to landfill. Not only that, but we are ranked 23rd out of 27 countries for the amount of packaging waste recovered. At, Wrights Plastics, Midland’s based plastic product manufacturer, we decided to make big changes to the company to show that plastics needn’t have such a bad reputation.

The changes we have made in recent years were initially inspired by our attendance at a Marks and Spencer conference discussing their, “Plan A”.

Marks and Spencer’s sustainability aims inspired the changes made to Wrights Plastics business

Plan A is Marks and Spencer’s long-term strategy to become a sustainable business by making hundreds of commitments over a number of years to reduce the social and environmental impact of their business and ultimately become the world’s most sustainable, major retailer. These commitments not only affect them, their employees and their customers, they also want to engage their thousands of suppliers in this process. As one of them, we were inspired to adopt these values and even developour own environmental commitments.

We developed a radical plan to reduce the environmental impact of the products we produce by changing the materials and processes used to create those products as well as to reduce waste, energy consumption and improve our levels of recycling. The journey will be a long one for us but we are pleased we have already reached some major targets.

Wrights are hitting significant targets for the recycling of plastics and efficient production

Some of our recent achievements on the road to becoming a more sustainable business include:

  • Improved segregation and recycling of waste within the business, resulting in 30 tonnes of waste being diverted from landfill in the past three years.
  • Recycled foam is now used in a number of products and specified wherever possible.
  • 100% recycled material is now used for products supplied to their client, Land Rover.
  • Accreditation to the Forest Stewardship Council standards, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests has been attained.
  • Installation of new energy efficient production equipment and lighting that will reduce the emission of CO2 by 17 tonnes per annum.
  • 40 tonnes of scrap material has been sent for recycling in the past year. Mostly this has been acrylic but also includes: HDPE, ABS, PETG, styrene and nylon

These achievements are proof that the world of plastics manufacturing needn’t be unsustainable and that if more businesses made these kinds of improvements, the impact on the environment could be significant.

Recycling and reducing waste plastics is good for business as well as the environment

As part of our environmental journey it has become clear that improving awareness of environmental issues and then taking positive actions to try and address these issues makes good business sense as well as being good for the environment. Customers and consumers want to know that the products they are buying are produced as responsibly as possible and by doing this, companies can make themselves the suppliers of choice to many more customers. If every company within the industry was willing to take a similar approach then the UK would not be so low in the international tables and significant reductions in landfill could be achieved.

So, even if the EU objective of sending zero plastics to landfill by 2020 doesn’t inspire you to change your business, then perhaps the idea that it makes good business sense will! If you are a supplier, your clients and customers are likely to be increasingly looking to source their products from sustainable and responsible companies. But also, if you are a retailer or organisation that makes use of plastics, then Wrights Plastics collaboration with Marks and Spencer is a great example of how customers and clients can impact on and inspire their suppliers to become cleaner and greener.


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