Domestic waste plastic processing is a better option than exporting it to countries such as China, recycler Axion Polymers has said.
Responding to a recent report by the Waste & Resources Action Programme that said exporting was better than landfilling, Axion broadly agreed. However, it added that local processing held greater benefits for environmental, ethical and legal reasons.
Axion commercial director Roger Morton said it made more sense to reprocess waste close to its production source because this saves transport-related CO2. Domestic recycling also ensures residues from the process are disposed of responsibly.
This is particularly true for waste electrical and electronic equipment, which contains complex mixtures of materials and additives. While there is a carbon saving from shipping surplus plastic overseas for recycling compared with landfilling or incinerating it in the UK, by recycling this material at home, producers of plastic waste save even more carbon and can be confident that they have discharged their duty of care for its ethical disposal under UK-controlled legislative standards, Morton said.
This has to be the most sustainable solution for the recovery and preservation of valuable resources for our home markets.
Company technical director Keith Freegard added: By concentrating the waste material into useful output products such as high-grade polymer resin, the exported tonnage is then more densely packed into shipping containers consisting entirely of material that will be converted into saleable goods. The potential CO2 impact of shipping a large proportion of unwanted waste, which is disposed of in uncontrolled ways such as open incineration, is incalculable.
Image: WEEE from items such as computers must be disposed off to high domestic environmental standards under UK legislation