The feasibility of including flexible laminated packaging, such as toothpaste tubes and food, drink and pet food pouches, in household recycling schemes is being tested in trials involving three local authorities.
The Anthesis LRS consultancy is leading the £188,000 Defra-funded scheme, which is looking at the recovery of aluminium from the packaging. Other partners are Nestlé, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Suez Environnement and Enval.
Nine-month trials kicked off last month involving the councils at Bracknell, Calderdale and Hounslow in London.
Collections and initial sorting are being managed by Suez while Enval is recycling the material by separating the metal from plastic at its demonstration facility at Alconbury near Huntingdon.
Anthesis director Dee Moloney said: “Flexible laminated packaging is becoming increasingly widespread and the global market is anticipated to continue to grow year on year.
“If these trials prove that viable collection, sorting and recycling schemes can be implemented, it will support the increased flow of materials into secondary markets, establishing another step towards a more circular economy in the UK.”
Different methods of engaging with residents and collecting the material at the kerbside are being tested and the results of the trials will help determine best practice. They will also provide insight into how brands, communications and consumer behaviour influence collection.
Stuart Hayward-Higham, technical development director at Suez, said: “The outcomes of the trials will enable project partners and other industry stakeholders to evaluate the potential to include flexible laminated packaging in mainstream recycling collections in the UK.”
Resource management minister Dan Rogerson said: “I look forward to seeing the results of these innovative studies which could lead us to extracting more value from our resources, saving energy and supporting further growth in the UK’s recycling and remanufacturing industries. Together this will build a fairer society and stronger economy.”
Alison Ingle, group packaging manager, Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “Flexible laminated packaging is important to help protect our products and we are keen to support innovation to increase its recycling. In this role, we are helping to communicate to the public what can be recycled, using some of our brands which use laminated packaging. We hope our brands can help influence the public’s perception of recycling and encourage positive behaviour.”
How the trials will work
Up to 260 households in each council area have been provided with appropriate communications, a caddy and caddy bags to participate in kerbside collections for nine months (February to November 2015):
- Bracknell Forest participants were recruited through directly engaging members of its recycling incentive scheme, living in specific areas, by email and an online survey. Target material is being collected in the caddy bags from participating households on the same day as their fortnightly commingled recycling.
- In Calderdale, selected households in Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, are having material collected as part of their weekly kerbside-sorted recycling collections. A collection point has also been installed at the Sowerby Bridge household waste recycling centre, providing access to participate for all residents.
- In Hounslow, selected households were encouraged to participate, using communications materials and door canvassing. Target material is being collected from households as part of their weekly kerbside-sorted recycling collections.