Public Support Plastics Recycling
According to new research, a majority of the UK’s adult population believe recycling will assume greater importance in the next five years with a particular emphasis on plastics.
Currently only 9 per cent of plastics are recycled globally which provides for potential savings of between 30 and 150 million metric tonnes of carbon annually were products made from the material to be recycled (equating to a 61 per cent reduction in plastic emissions).
Commenting on the research, Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology at Veolia UK and Ireland, says: “Eighty-one per cent of adults said they were confident in their knowledge of what is recyclable and so as an industry we need to enable that action. We are ready to invest in domestic infrastructure, to process more materials, develop technology to recycle different types of plastics and to boost the circular economy, cutting the nation’s carbon emissions and doing our environmental duty.
“We have to keep material functional, simple and sustainable. The Environment Bill will enshrine in law the need for greener practices and incentivise manufacturers to eco-design their products through various measures such as the extended producer responsibility scheme and the deposit return scheme which will in turn make the recycling process easier and more accessible. It is therefore essential that the Plastics Packaging Tax and the Resources and Waste Strategy go ahead without delay, so the nation can meet our sustainable targets and do the planet justice.”
“This research also showed that 56% of people believe that there is too little information on recycling. Although different councils have different waste rules, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Resources and Waste Strategy will simplify this through the harmonisation of waste collection associated with a clear labelling system which is a much needed step for creating a fully functioning circular and sustainable system.”
Forty percent of the participants in the research which took the form of a YouGov survey additionally indicated their plastics consumption has decreased in the last year, although 44 per cent indicated they only tend to recycle textiles, with 48 per cent tending to recycle food waste and 41 per cent e-waste.
Veolia, which commissioned the survey, has been innovating and developing its plastics recycling technology: from its Dagenham facility which keeps 300million high-density polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles in a circular loop each year, to resolving the black plastic issue by pioneering the use of a new detectable black pigment for HDPE bottles. This black pigment meant they can be detected by recycling plant scanners and sorted for recycling leading to around a further 2,500 tonnes of plastic bottles potentially being sorted and sent for recycling each year.