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Red tape to be cut by Environment Agency to help plastic industry

More than a million tonnes of plastic could be diverted from landfill every year under new proposals launched by the Environment Agency and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Currently out for 12-week consultation, the Quality Protocol for non-packaging plastic waste aims to free one third of all plastic from waste regulations to encourage more recycling. It would make it easier and cheaper for industry to reprocess plastic waste than send it to landfill. It would apply to everything from plastics used in the construction industry to broken childrens toys. Environment Agency head of external programmes Martin Brocklehurst said: A Quality Protocol saves business the time and costs associated with meeting waste regulations, by clearly defining the standards required to collect, transport, store, recycle and reuse non-packaging plastic, without risking human health and the environment. By adhering to a Quality Protocol, recycled non-packaging plastic loses the waste tag, which makes it more marketable while guaranteeing customers that the material they buy meets agreed quality standards. The Quality Protocol could result in C02 savings of over 70,000 tonnes over the next 10 years. Plastic recycler Axion Recycling has welcomed the proposals to cut red tape. Axion commercial director Roger Morton said: If approved, recyclers like Axion will be able to sell their chip products as product, rather than as waste, which would open up new market possibilities. This is crucial, as recycled plastic is currently defined as waste before it has been extruded. So selling PVC chip as a product not only saves a melting process but it increases its perceived value and quality to purchasers, as well as reducing the need for virgin materials. Key industries that produce non-packaging plastic waste include: electrical and electronic equipment, vehicle manufacturing and construction industries. WRAP director of organics Richard Swannell commented: Non-packaging waste plastic can be reused by many different markets, reducing the need for virgin materials and thereby helping to reduce the impact of climate change. Morton added: By cutting bureaucracy and paperwork, the proposed protocol will improve the attractiveness of plastic material as a product, rather than a waste, to potential customers. That can only be good for the industry and the environment.

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