1.4 million tonnes of plastic packaging ends up in the environment in 2021

Recovery and recycling rates of plastic packaging in the UK dipped in 2021, with waste ending up in the environment rising past 1.4 million tonnes, according to analysis of the latest DEFRA statistics from Nozama.

2,514 thousand tonnes of plastic packaging waste was produced in the UK in 2021, but with just 1,112 thousand tonnes recycled or recovered, the rate of recycling fell to 44.2%, a sharp drop from the previous two years which had shown signs of improvement with the rate rising from 46.2% in 2019 to 47.2% in 2020. The figures therefore uncover that the total volume of packaging waste ending up in the environment rose to 1,402 thousand tonnes in 2021 – again higher than 2020 (1,317 thousand tonnes) and 2019 (1,331 thousand tonnes).

André Vanyi Robin, Founder and CEO of Nozama, said, “It is frustrating that after recent steady progress in the rates of recovery and recycling of plastic packaging waste, there has been a huge backward step in the past year. Plastic waste is one of the most commonly produced materials for packaging and it is disappointing that it accounts for nearly a third of waste that is not being recycled or recovered. It was World Recycling Day last month, but clearly we have a long journey ahead of us to improve the volume of packaging waste that we are keeping out of the environment.”

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