UK drive to recycle non-bottle household plastic packing launched

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling

A new multi-million pound scheme to kick start the recycling of non-bottle household plastic packaging has been launched in the UK by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The body said its research demonstrates that recycling of such items as yoghurt pots and margarine tubs is economically viable and technically possible – as well as being environmentally desirable. Current intelligence “suggests healthy markets for reprocessed materials and commercial organizations should be able to set up and run recycling facilities while returning acceptable returns on investment​”, it added.

The move comes a issues of sustainability in the packaging industry become increasingly important - both from a business and a green perspective.

Capacity increase target

WRAP said over one million tonnes of household plastic packaging waste – excluding plastic bottles – is produced annually and ends up in landfill. The group has pledged a ₤2m cash injection to stimulate recycling infrastructure to help build up capacity from its very limited current level to 40,000 tonnes within two years. At present, 180,000 tonnes of plastic bottles are recycled annually. Drainage pipes, refuse sacks and strapping are just some of the products that could be made with recycled mixed plastics.

Marcus Gover, director of market development at WRAP said: “The grant is designed to help stimulate the development of waste management infrastructure and boost recycling capacity by at least 40,000 tonnes per year by 2011.”

“In support of the grant scheme, WRAP has also published further research designed to inform the choices and decisions made by local authorities and businesses at every stage of the plastics recycling process.

“The suite of research available looks at the opportunities and financial implications of recycling more non-bottle household plastics packaging and examines the practical and commercial viability of developing the next stage in the recycling chain.”

Consumer driven

The group said demand for more recycling options for non-bottle plastics packaging was being driven by consumers and that end markets for the recyclate would continue to grow both domestically and overseas.

It is extremely visible, and householders increasingly want it to be recycled in the same way as other packaging materials such as glass, plastic bottles and cans. Plastic packaging has a value as a secondary material and it does not make economic or environmental sense to dispose of it in landfill,​” said Gover.

Research from commercial scale trials to collect and sort plastics delivered encouraging results, said WRAP: “Recycling of mixed plastics packaging in the UK is technically viable on a commercial scale. The materials collected, sorted and then reprocessed were used to create commercially viable products. It is clear that markets exist for the majority (over 95 percent) of the recycled mixed plastics.”

Related topics Smart Packaging

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