Designed to dispel the myth that plastic bottle recycling is a no-go, high-cost option, a series of regional seminars under the label Message in a Bottle has been targeting local authorities across the UK in a bid to persuade them of the benefits of collecting plastics.
Organised by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the aim of the seminars was to highlight the true potential of plastic bottle recycling, and emphasise the key economic and environmental benefits of including plastic bottles in kerbside collection schemes.
As a result, WRAP says that an increasing number of local authorities are now actively looking to incorporate plastic bottles into their current kerbside collections.
Paul Davidson, materials sector manager for plastics at WRAP, commented: "The key aim of these seminars has been to actively encourage local authorities across the UK to adopt plastic bottle collection schemes by demonstrating best practice and highlighting the key benefits. We are really pleased with the feedback. It is encouraging to see that more than a quarter of delegates who attended the seminars have already contacted our technical advice service, Rotate, and are actively planning to become part of a £27 million market."
Research carried out by WRAP looking at delegates' opinions before and after the seminars has found:
· Overall agreement that plastic bottle recycling can be implemented cost effectively has increased by 36% from 22 to 58%
· Agreement that it can improve recycling rates has risen by 21% from 55 to 76%
· Agreement that plastic recycling has clear environmental benefits has increased by 18%, from 68% to 86%
· WRAP's UK Plastic Bottle Recycling Survey 2005 also highlights how local authorities are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of introducing plastic bottle collection schemes.
The survey of all 477 UK local authorities reveals a doubling in the amount of plastic bottles collected for recycling over the past two years, with the number of plastic bottle collection schemes increasing by 18%. Collections are now performing at an annualised rate of 48,397 tonnes, which equates to 10.5% of bottles in the household waste stream.
Using the data provided, WRAP estimates that the provision of plastic bottle recycling within kerbside collections will exceed 10.9 million households in 2006.
This means 44% of all UK households will be able to recycle plastic bottles on their doorstep.
Owain Gwent, recycling officer at Gwynedd Council, attended the Leeds Message in a Bottle seminar.
He said: "Gwynned is currently looking into the logistics of implementing plastic bottle recycling within its kerbside scheme, and this seminar provided me with the information to start putting an initiative in place.
"We already recycle glass, paper, aluminium and steel, among other things, but the statistics show that adding plastic to our recycling scheme will boost overall figures. The seminar also highlighted that there is a strong demand for plastic rec