UK runs 39 different plastic recycling collection services, study finds

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Differing plastic collection services has long been an issue in the UK
The plastics problem is far greater than you are portraying as all the WEEE goods that are recycled ...

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There are 39 different sets of rules for what can be put in plastic recycling collections across the UK, according to BBC analysis.

This has long been an issue of contention within the industry, with many saying differing collections create mixed messages for the public and add to confusion.

Rotherham, Tonbridge and Malling and The Isles of Scilly currently do not collect plastics.

All four UK nations are attempting to improve their recycling rates, with England aiming for 50% of waste to be recycled by 2020.

Scotland and Wales have set targets of 70% by 2025 and Northern Ireland has proposed 60% of its municipal waste should be recycled by 2020.

Lee Marshall, CEO of LARAC, argued the blame should not be on local authorities which despite suffering budget cuts, have expanded collections.

He said: "Collection systems are only a result of what materials are put on sale and how viable the end markets for reprocessing are. The analysis shows that too many plastics are used in packaging production.

"If the end markets are not stable enough or in some case mature enough to give local authorities the outlets they need, then they cannot to tell residents to put all these different types of plastics in their recycling."

Marshall insisted the problem was not due to public confusion.

He added: "It is time the industry stopped peddling a myth about confusion as it hurts everyone who wants to get materials out for recycling. If others are serious about working together with local authorities to capture more material then they need to stop jumping on this type of bandwagon and start aiding us in working towards less material types and even better communication."

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK external affairs director Adam Read called for a joined up collection service.

He said: “Harmonising collection will result if producers are encouraged to simplify the materials they use at the point of production. Extended producer responsibility will force the change to simplify the system and close the recycling reality gap."

Different recycling schemes also make it difficult for manufacturers to label their products, with Read calling for simpler labelling.

He added: “Simpler clearer labelling will make it easier for consumers to choose what products they spend their money on and more confident in knowing what they think is recyclable.

"They can be sure it will go back into the recyclables market and not dumped in landfill or worse, chucked onto the street or our fields, rivers and oceans.”

Last year, budget cuts for local authority waste and recycling collections and communications hit 47% of local authorities.


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The plastics problem is far greater than you are portraying as all the WEEE goods that are recycled contain vast quantities of mixed plastics that as yet cannot be easily coped with in quantities that are being produced. The solution is to manufacture heavy oils from cracking the plastics back to their original state but this needs massive investment . There should be a separate Government department set up to take care of this problem by giving advice to British companies involved in recycling and giving grants to encourage smaller recyclers to expand properly. The Chinese have sold to us and others cheap plastic electrical goods made from the very waste we have been sending them for years , and now they have got rid of it they won't take any more of the worlds waste. This problem will not go away and a solution has to be found quickly !!!

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