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'Millions wasted' in uncollected plastics

Up to £78m is being wasted in disposal costs for plastics not collected for recycling, research from a recycling organisation has found.

The finding comes from Recoup’s annual survey of plastics collection, which led it to call for further campaigns to convince the public to reserve materials for recycling.

The survey found that collection of plastic packaging from homes increased by 6% in 2014-15 against the previous year, with 492,623 tonnes collected, a rise of some 30,000 tonnes.

Plastic pot, tub and tray (PTT) collections increased by more than 12%, equivalent to 16,700 tonnes, and now comprise 30% of the total collection of household rigid plastic packaging.

Collection of plastic bottles continued what Recoup called a “modest and steady trajectory” with a 3.5% increase, equivalent to 11,500 tonnes.

Despite this progress, Recoup voiced alarm about the amount of material still not collected for recycling.

It estimated that disposal costs for uncollected plastic bottles were £25m and for PTT anywhere between £37m and £53m.

Recoup technical manager Steve Morgan said: “With the overall recycling rate for rigid plastic packaging at 44%, there is too much material that is not collected for recycling.

“This lost material highlights again the importance of communicating regularly and effectively with consumers, particularly that plastics can be recycled from all rooms around the home.”

Recoup said that with around 60% of the total plastic packaging recycled coming from households, there was still a heavy reliance on increasing local authority collections to meet both the UK’s 2017 plastic packaging target and expected European legislation for more ambitious targets.

Morgan said a new joint campaign by Recycle Now and Pledge 4 Plastics would “provide aligned communications activity and a consistent set of messages around plastics collections, providing all the resources needed for local authorities and businesses to run a plastics recycling consumer communications campaign”.


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