In our third Q&A to celebrate Recycle Week that runs from 21 to 27 September, we speak to plastics recycler, Indigo Environmental.
To celebrate the organisations and individuals in the recycling sector who have continued to work hard despite the unprecedented difficulties encountered this year, for Recycle Week we are publishing a new industry insight Q&A every day with those who are really making a difference.
We have previously featured Bristol Waste Company and e-waste recycler iWaste and for our third interview, Paul Rendle-Barnes, Group recycling director of plastic recycling specialist Indigo Environmental, tells us more about the challenges they have faced over the last six months.
Who are Indigo Environmental and what do you do?
At Indigo, sustainability is at the heart of what we do.
We develop closed-loop and innovative recycling and re-use solutions for plastic items often regarded as ‘waste’ – such as contaminated plastic packaging, drums, IBCs, buckets, packaging, wheelie bins, and more – turning them into a valuable resource for our customers.
And we’re proud that the work we do is in support of a more circular and less linear economy.
For your organisation, what have been the biggest challenges in the last six months?
Devising and implementing new, innovative ways of working – one example being video conferencing – and best practices, to protect and ensure the safety of not only our team members but also our supply chain partners and clients.
Has the ‘new normal’ presented any unforeseen opportunities for you?
We have definitely seen the ‘onshoring’ of the UK’s own waste gather momentum during this time. Therefore, as plastic reprocessing moves closer to home, markets will likely follow the trend towards re-localisation – something we’re deeply passionate about as a company.
What does the future look like for your industry and what challenges lie ahead?
Indigo has always adopted a flexible approach to business – allowing us to move quickly when opportunities present themselves.
With lots in the news headlines about illegal waste dumping overseas, we would anticipate further regulations to be implemented to help stop this from happening.
"Perhaps we’ll see a move towards having to manage waste ethically and sustainability in the country of origin."
There is no one piece of technology that can offer a single answer to the country’s recycling challenges. However, a blend of industry collaboration, solutions and willingness to change, will allow us all to respond more quickly to the ‘new normal’ – whatever that may look like over the coming months.
What one piece of advice to improve recycling would you tell consumers today?
Quality, quality and more quality, every time. These values run throughout the Indigo Group, and our partner relationships.
"In our eyes, the mixing of valuable polymer streams destroys their worth, adds costs and discourages circular economy opportunities."
And what advice would you give policy makers?
Accelerating the minimum recycled content inclusion percentage is key to making sure more manufacturers take recycling and sustainability seriously. Also, with regards to implementing plastic taxes, I believe the UK should be matching the European Union’s (EU) levies and financial penalties – €800 p/t, instead of £200 p/t – even if we aren’t officially EU members.
Tell us your favourite fact or myth to bust about recycling
‘Most plastics can be recycled’ – in theory this is true, but not if they’re all mixed together. They need to be separated for a truly effective recycling process which yields a high-quality, reusable output. And not forgetting, some plastics are much easier to recycle than others!
Click here to find out more about Indigo Environmental.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.