RPC Group chief executive Ron Marsh has been honoured for his contribution to the plastics sector at the British Plastics Federation’s annual dinner
Marsh, who recently announced plans to retire next year, was given the Gold Medal for distinguished service to the plastics industry and the BPF at the dinner last Thursday (18 October).
The medal was awarded as BPF president Philip Watkins, in his speech to the dinner, criticised the government’s stance on plastics recycling and called for the expansion of the UK’s energy from waste infrastructure.
Marsh has been at the top of the plastics packaging world for more than two decades and was instrumental in the buy-out of RPC from SCA in 1991.
At the time, RPC had five sites and 1,000 employees; it now has 51 facilities across 11 European countries with more than 7,000 employees.
Watkins presented Marsh with the honour and said: “[Marsh] was President of the British Plastics Federation in 1997-98 and has been a strong supporter of its many programmes, particularly related to plastics packaging.
“Ron has been an inspirational leader in the Plastics industry and I am proud to present him with his Gold Medal tonight.”
Elsewhere, in his speech to the event, Watkins was critical of Defra’s proposed targets for plastic packaging recycling.
He said: “Defra has proposed impossible targets, with the overall target in 2012 of 23.7% recycling rising by 5% a year to 42% in 2017.
“Only two English Councils out of 388 collect enough plastics to meet Defra’s recycling targets and the extra cost for industry will be £70 million, undermining our plastic packaging manufacturers’ competitiveness.
“Let’s not forget that iconic British product HP Sauce is now made and packed in Spain and the Netherlands – not here.”
Energy from waste
He also tackled the energy supply situation which has been at the top of the BPF’s agenda in recent times and on which it has frequently warned of energy shortages in the coming years.
He pointed to the fact that 20% of the UK’s power generating capacity is due to close down in the next decade and the regulator Ofgem’s warning of power supplies not meeting demand in the winter of 2015-16.
Watkins said: “Every month lost with no new power capacity brings the brown outs closer. Two of three energy giants who were to have built a dozen new nuclear reactors in Britain have pulled out.
“The Chief Executive of EDF once promised that in 2017 our Christmas turkeys would be cooked with the aid of power from the first new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. This turkey is now at least three years behind schedule.
“The BPF will keep up the pressure on Government to act faster but we can help ourselves by pressing for a lot more energy from waste plants, where unrecyclable waste can provide 11% of our power needs.”