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'Big fall' in glass recycling causes concern

Glass recycling

Recycled glass packaging figures have caused concern after provisional Environment Agency (EA) data showed a “big fall”.

While other materials performed strongly, glass remelt accepted for UK reprocessing dropped to 159,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2016, down from 205,000 tonnes in the previous three-month period.

The decrease has taken industry experts by surprise, with plastics and steel previously thought to be more at risk.

But plastics has continued its “spectacular” performance in the last quarter, with Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) chair Phil Conran confident the material will meet its target this year “fairly easily” if it continues at the current rate.

Some 246,000 tonnes of recovered plastics were accepted by agreed protocols in Q1 2016, the material’s second best-ever total after last quarter’s 263,000 tonnes.

Steel maintained a strong performance, which Conran said was surprising given the recent turmoil in the industry. The amount of the material accepted for UK reprocessing dropped by less than 1% in the previous quarter to 29,000 tonnes.

Conran questioned whether the low figure for glass was accurate.

“It seems strange that there has been such a big fall. Given that these are only provisional figures, it would be interesting to see if that goes up at all once the EA has verified everything.”

He said the figure was 20,000 lower than the “absolute minimum” he expected, when compared with the Q1 figure for last year of 179,000.

“I would be surprised if it stayed this low and was not made up for in Q2,” he added.

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