UK RECYCLING
Plastic bottles recycling rates plateau estimated at 58% for 2012 / Low collection rates for pots, tubs and trays / New data published by Recoup
Growth in UK household plastic bottle collection is stalling, despite 96% of local authorities providing a kerbside collection service, says plastics waste management and recycling specialist Recoup (Peterborough / UK; www.recoup.org). The average plastic bottle collection rate per household has been increasing only slightly in recent years and has now reached a plateau, it says. The stalling of growth in plastic bottle recycling suggests the provision of kerbside collection infrastructure alone will not allow the UK to reach 2017 recycling targets, warns Recoup. “The barriers to increased collection need to be clearly identified and addressed, to ensure all householders are using the service provided for dry recyclables, and that all plastic bottles and as many other plastics requested by the local authority are placed in the recyclables collection container,” it notes.

Plastic bottles collection is estimated at 316,054 t for 2012, representing a recycling rate of 58%, according to new plastics packaging consumption data published in Recoup’s “2013 UK household plastics collection survey”. While it suggests a large increase compared with the 52% recorded for 2011– see Plasteurope.com of 16.05.2013, Recoup noted that the revised consumption data and a more refined collection dataset has caused a realignment of the statistics.

Collection of pots, tubs and trays has continued to increase, to 124,347 t in 2012, but the recycling rate remains low at 19%. Only about 60% of local authorities provide kerbside collection of the items, Recoup notes. While investment in infrastructure for sorting technologies is now happening, end markets need to be developed to provide the necessary drivers of both implementing a collection of the items as well as an outlet for the material already collected, it adds.
Ambitious recycling targets in UK by 2017
The overall result is that about 440,400 t of plastics packaging was collected in 2012, representing a recycling rate of 37%. To meet the UK’s 2017 plastics packaging targets, it is estimated about 836,970 t of plastics packaging would need to be collected from households in 2017 – almost double the current 440,400 t level, Recoup says.

The business case for collecting plastics to recycle is compelling, Recoup states. It estimates that, based on the median landfill gate fee for non-hazardous material of GBP 85/t, the 42% of plastic bottles not collected for recycling cost more than GBP 19m (EUR 22.6m) to dispose of, while these bottles could attract a value of GBP 25m from reprocessors. Markets for pots, tubs and trays are more uncertain, but the household pots, tubs and trays not collected for recycling could incur an estimated disposal cost of GBP 45m-55m.

e-Service:
Recoup's UK household plastics collection survey" as PDF
19.12.2013 Plasteurope.com [226990-0]
Published on 19.12.2013
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