MP calls for urgent debate on plastic recycling

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When promoting and marketing plastic packaging products available from Davpack, we always try to make sure we mention if they’re recyclable. If you’re trying to pay more than lip service to the concept of recycling by ensuring that as much of your business and household waste stays out of landfill as possible, this is, we hope, useful, even valuable information.

There is often just one problem, mainly for households and small businesses, and one I’m afraid we can’t do a lot about. And that’s finding someone prepared to actually take it off your hands.

 

Which plastics can be recycled?

Recyclable plastics are broken down into seven categories, identified by the category number inside the recycling triangle symbol and the following codes: 1 PET, 2 HDPE, 3 V, 4 LDPE, 5 PP, 6 PS, 7 OTHER. Although there are exceptions, most councils will only take the first two (these categories include drinks bottles and milk cartons), whether that be from roadside collections or at the ‘recycling centre’ (aka the tip).

The others are a little harder to get rid of.

As discussed on an earlier blog, more and more supermarkets are now providing facilities for shoppers to recycle their plastic carrier bags, although that still leaves many other LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) products going to waste. Polypropylene (PP) food containers (margarine tubs, yoghurt cartons etc) represents possibly the largest group of plastics which could be recycled but which usually ends up in landfill.

 

The way forward?

In January of this year, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Recycling Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, set a challenging target for plastic recycling of 57% by 2017 as opposed to the current rate of 32%. Everyone agrees this should be an achievable target and one we should all aim for. But with no associated investment in recycling facilities and no incentives for councils to improve roadside collections, many in the industry are now wondering whether there’s any realistic likelihood that these targets can be met. And with financial penalties in line for companies who fail to meet targets, voices are being raised questioning whether the government should be doing more to help.

On 12 July last year, MP DR Matthew Offord raised the issue in Parliament, and asked for an “urgent debate on how to establish a realistic road map for promoting recycling that takes account of the local reality and does not hold small and medium-sized enterprises financially responsible for delivering targets that are outside their control”. For the government, Sir George Young promised to raise the matter with the relevant departments.

As one of the country’s leading suppliers of packaging materials, we’re keen that our products are disposed of in a responsible manner, and for the most part that means reusing and recycling them whenever possible. It remains to be seen what comes of this latest attempt to push the process forward, but surely it’s obvious that there is no point in setting targets if the means to fulfil them are not there, and we hope that the government acts swiftly to remedy the situation.

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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