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Expanded plastics collection scrapped

An expanded plastics recycling scheme in Warwickshire has been shelved following a collapse in the market.

Warwickshire county council had been working in partnership with contractor H W Martin since December 2005 to increase the range of plastics it collected at six of its household recycling centres.

The expanded mixed plastics collection accepted materials such as carrier bags, yogurt pots and bottle lids in addition to plastic bottles that the council was already collecting.

But a market collapse has meant that this is no longer possible, and the council has had to revert to recycling only PET (No 1) Soft Drink bottles and HDPE (No 2) milk and detergent bottles.

Warwickshire county council cabinet member for environmental services Martin Heatley said: “Unfortunately the contractor has informed us that we can no longer accept the additional plastics collected and we are returning to recycling soft drinks bottles and milk containers and detergent bottles for the foreseeable future.”

The popularity of the expanded service has led to a disgruntled community, who are upset that the scheme has been scrapped after only a few months.

Warwickshire county council waste management contracts officer Sarah Elliott said confusion among the public had been compounded by the “awful” timing of council’s annual leaflet sent to every household in Warwickshire advertising the expanded collection - that hit doorsteps only weeks before it was scrapped.

Elliott explained that the scheme was so successful the contractor couldn’t find a buyer for all the material. “In some ways we were the victims of our own success,” she said. The public may now have to be retrained to separate their bottles and Elliott said the confusing messages could mean many people may give up on recycling.

The experience has led the council to consider contracts, so it would have a fixed and guaranteed outlet for its recyclables and share the risks.

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