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UK - Developments in mixed plastics collections

Two UK companies have recently announced that they will be introducing new facilities which will help enable the recycling of mixed plastics packaging.

Recycling firm Recresco has increased the range of household plastics it can collect through its network of bring banks, to include plastic containers such as margarine tubs, yoghurt pots, food trays and drink cups.

The company currently collects over 100 tonnes of plastic bottles a week through banks at 450-500 sites across 30 local authority areas. Councils with existing Recresco bring bank sites will be able to introduce the new service immediately, and at no extra cost. The facility is also available to councils who don’t currently have Recresco sites in place.

Under the new service, plastics are collected by vehicles using a vacuum-based system capable of collecting four tonnes of plastic in a single load, before being sent to an established reprocessor in the UK , or exported abroad - as long as the company has been licensed to do so by the Environment Agency.

Meanwhile, Baylis Recycling and Plastics Sorting, a social enterprise established by the Cleanstream Group, have announced their capability to take mixed plastics from local authority recycling collectors across Wales.

The partnership will initially process mixed plastics at their new Keynsham plant just outside Bristol, however land and funding have been secured for a sister operation in Ebbw Vale that will process between 10,000 and 20,000 tonnes of plastic per year by 2010.

The project has been developed in partnership with the local development trusts Tredegar and Ebbw Vale, and Tidy Trev, the local kerbside recycling provider.

Stuart Foster, Senior Project Manager at Recoup welcomed these developments. He said: “Any innovations in developing systems for recycling mixed plastics packaging are good news for the industry. However, Recoup advise that mixed plastics packaging should only be collected if the end market is sustainable and auditable.

“It is essential that a co-ordinated approach is taken to the development of UK mixed plastics packaging recycling, and Recoup will be working in partnership with organisations from across the plastics supply and recovery chain to produce an industry specification later this year.”