Correcting some of the myths about plastics packaging recycling is also the theme of a presentation by David Baker, general manager, RPC Containers UKSC at the Plastics Recycling Expo Conference, in Telford on June 18 and 19.
Plastic being sent to China myth
Katherine Fleet, group sustainability manager,RPC Group, told FoodProductionDaily the plastics industry is facing several major challenges in the coming years, not just to meet ambitious Government-set recycling rates but to build a more positive environmental profile for the material among consumers.
“The myth that we commonly come across in regards to recycling is plastic packaging is not recyclable or being recycled and is ending up in landfill or being sent to China,” she said.
“We need to alter public perceptions of plastic packaging and to make them aware that plastic has a positive environmental profile and it is a recyclable material.
“Another reason is increased material recycling targets. New UK government targets for recycling mean we need to recycle 1.2m tonnes of plastic by 2017 – that’s an increase of 560,000 tonnes from today’s rates.
“If we are going to meet this target we have to massively increase the amount of all plastics that we recycle – bottles, PTTs, films and commercial plastics.”
Margarine tub turned into paint container
Fleet added it is the first time RPC hosted a social media online campaign. Last year was the first year it participated in any activity for Recycle Week and launched a video with polymer recycler Regain Polymers, depicting how a used margarine tub is collected and recycled for incorporation into a paint container.
“We started up our Twitter account about a year ago and have seen how successful it can be for communicating important messages,” she said.
“I recently took part in a Sense about Science twitter Q&A on Plastic in Packaging which proved popular and showed me how far messages can reach through social media.”
According to RPC, there is evidence that consumers appreciate polyethylene milk bottles and PET drinks bottles can be recycled but have less knowledge about how other types of plastics packaging, such as pots, tubs and trays, can have a useful second life
The company has been pro-active in this area and produced the first 20 litre container made entirely from recycled material, sourced from both consumer and industrial waste streams.
“Pots, tubs and trays are made of a range of polymers but can also be recycled like bottles into new products,” added Fleet.
“This might not be packaging as this material is generally not suitable for use in food contact packaging but could be used in other applications such as plastic timber or plastic strapping. We have developed products such as the Dulux paint can that can use some of this pot, tubs and tray material.”
You can tweet your plastics recycling questions for RPC during Recycle Week @rpc_group or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org