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Feature: The potential of plastics

With significant scope to increase the collection of plastic bottles from households, local authorities are being urged to recognise the value of this material. However, the need for a long term, efficient approach and proven economic viability of such a scheme is essential.

Having spent £3 million on a plastics recycling facility at its Berkshire base, paper reprocessor Baylis Recycling has signed up its first local authority to the one-stop plastics recycling service it is now offering.

As of this month, Surrey-based Runnymede Council has opted for a five year fixed price contract covering plastic bottles. All the plastics reprocessing in Baylis' new programme will be carried out in the UK by the company. Baylis, which has regional depots nationwide, will shred, flake and wash the waste at its Langley, plant and has a reprocessing capacity of up to 150,000 tonnes per annum, or two tonnes per hour.
Under the scheme, Runnymede residents will be able to deposit plastic bottles and lids at existing recycling sites for collection.

Baylis will pay for the waste at prices that will be fixed for the next five years.
Managing director Chris Baylis says: "Runnymede is adopting a strategy that makes good commercial and environmental sense, and we encourage other councils to follow their example." Baylis also claims that the shorter supply chain will cut environmental costs.

Research carried out by Recoup shows that the UK market for plastic bottles is increasing at 6% each year, yet despite this, analysis by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicates that local authorities are spending over £100 million a year collecting and landfilling plastic bottles, which could achieve a value of £50 million.

"Our Message in a Bottle campaign highlights the importance of local councils collecting plastic bottles," says WRAP materials sector manager Paul Davidson. There are sustainable markets for these plastic bottles and collecting them is an affordable way of contributing to local authority targets. It is also environmentally the right thing to do."

According to WRAP, councils are already incurring significant costs to collect plastic bottles within the conventional refuse stream. The challenge is to get local authorities and contractors to recognise this as an ongoing cost and organise collections so that dry recyclables such as plastic bottles can be diverted from landfill to new product manufacture.

Councillor Chris Norman, chairman of Runnymede's leisure and environment committee says: "This decision shows our commitment to reducing waste and increasing recycling in the borough. Our residents have asked us for this and I urge then to use this service and work with us to reduce the amount of waste we produce."

BPF brochure promotes PVC building products

The British Plastics Federation has launched a downloadable brochure designed to help its members promote PVC building products in the construction sector.

Vinyl in construction - building a sustainable future is intended for architects, specifiers and decision makers in the construction market place such as local authorities and housing associations.

According to the guide, PVC used in building applications may have a lifespan of 40 years and subsequently, the opportunities for large scale recycling are limited by the availability of waste material.

Despite this, it

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