WRAP sets target for mixed plastics recycling

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mixed plastics Recycling

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) aims to have the UK's first mixed plastics reprocessing plant up and running by 2011.

WRAP said that the plant would have the capacity to recycle up to 40,000 tonnes of mixed plastics a year, which would be converted into food grade polypropylene.

According to WRAP, mixed plastics represent at least seven per cent of the domestic waste bin by weight, with around 86 kilos thrown out per household per year in the UK and the vast majority of it ending up in landfill.

Limited recycling There is currently very little recycling of mixed plastic in the UK as the capacity to reprocess it is limited.

Due to the number of polymer types contained within mixed plastics, the cost of recycling them is high and the perception is that it is not economically viable.

"These mixed plastics - the films and trays and pots - may not be the heaviest part of the domestic waste stream but they are now far and away the most visible," said WRAP CEO, Liz Goodwin.

"The prize for being able to reprocess more mixed plastics into high quality end products is huge," added Goodwin.

Trials Last week, WRAP announced the results of research it carried out to test the feasibility and cost effectiveness of recycling mixed plastic.

Goodwin claims that the results from the trials show that good collection and effective re-processing schemes for mixed plastics as well as high quality output is achievable: "It is economically viable to recycle the vast majority of the mixed plastics we currently throw out with our rubbish, and there are clear environmental gains to doing so."

However, she said that an integrated approach from local authorities, the recycling sector, waste management companies, investors, packaging companies and retailers is required to achieve this end.

"There is little point ramping up collection schemes now if the reprocessing capacity is not yet in place," she noted.

Packaging Waste Last month, the Local Government Association (LGA) in the UK called for manufacturers and retailers to fund the cost of collecting packaging waste to encourage them to reduce the amount of packaging used on their products.

The LGA's demand followed their second report into the weight of retailer packaging and how much of it can be recycled.

The research showed that up to 38 per cent of packaging in a regular household shopping basket cannot be recycled.

The study also revealed that Lidl and Marks & Spencer had the lowest level of packaging that could be recycled, at 62 per cent, while Asda's packaging came top, with 69 per cent of it recyclable.

However, the findings did show that retailers had a lower weight of packaging than in the first survey conducted by the LGA.

Industry impact The Five-Fold Environmental Ambition programme launched last October by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) to help reduce the environmental impact of the food manufacturing sector includes the ambition to send zero food and packaging waste from food manufacturing sites to landfill from 2015.

The FDF programme is looking at areas in which the federation believes the industry can have an impact such as CO2 emissions, landfill, packaging waste, water use, and food transport miles.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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