Quality of Plastics Recycling in the UK Needs to Improve

14 Jul 2013
HomeEnvironmentNews StoriesQuality of Plastics Recycling in the UK Needs to Improve

The UK wants to double plastics recycling levels by 2017. However, if it is to achieve this target the quality of recycling will have to improve significantly. That was the warning made by various speakers at the 16th International Conference on Recycling of Plastics held in Bad Neuenahr in Germany, as reported by Waste Management World.

One of the main speakers at the event was Roger Baynham, who is the chairman of the British Plastics Federation (BPF). He said that while recycling rates for plastic bottles are currently very good with over 40% being recycled, for other types of plastics the rate is still too low and less than 5% are being recycled. 

According to figures from the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP), 2.5 million tonnes of packaging enter the market in the UK each year. However, looking at 2012 figures, only 25% was recycled. This needs to increase to 42% by 2017, and the UK therefore needs to do more to increase the collection of plastics waste.

Barry Turner, the CEO of the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), also spoke at the conference, and said that the regulation of exports had to improve. Over 700,000 tonnes of plastics recycling were exported to China in 2010, but the Asian markets are now demanding a higher quality of recyclable materials.

The main argument seemed to be that there is still too much focus on quantity rather than quality. Doubts were also expressed about whether the system is able to significantly improve recycling rates at the moment, and large improvements are going to have to be made if the UK wants to increase its recycling rates for plastics.


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