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WEB FEATURE SPECIAL! Plastics: Things to look out for in 2008

On the go recycling
The ever increasing trend of snacking on the go means that out of home recycling looks set to remain a hot topic this year. To help meet this demand, on the go recycling facilities have become a fixture in a number of shopping centres, schools and leisure centres. Recoup is involved in a number of projects within this area. The first, in partnership with Recycling Options and GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Ribena and Lucozade, is piloting reverse vending machines for plastic bottles in shopping centres in Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Lakeside at Thurrock. The second project, in conjunction with Coca-Cola and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), will introduce collection bins specifically for plastic bottles and cans.

Plastic bottlesExpansion of local authority plastics collections
A tenth of UK local authorities have moved to the collection of other household plastic packaging items as well as bottles. A number of others are interested in recycling non bottle plastics. The schemes are often termed mixed plastic collections and may include films, bags, and other dense plastics such as pots, tubs and trays. These mixed plastics schemes are dependant on a sustainable and reliable market outlet with a positive sales value. Recoup do not believe that such markets are available in the UK at the current time.
Recoup senior project manager Stuart Foster says: Mixed plastics should not be collected if you are uncertain of the end market, and a full audit trail is not available. Recoup does not advocate the collection of mixed plastics from households for recycling where it is simply removed at a sorting facility and landfilled, or sold within baled bottles as unwanted contamination, generally to the export market. Work continues in this area to develop knowledge and opportunities.

New materials
New packaging materials such as bio-plastics continue to create interest and debate. As the use of bio-plastics increases, further research is needed to fully understand the impacts that they have on existing recycling and composting operations. More importantly we need to ensure that they do not interfere with or jeopardize existing plastic recycling systems. It should be noted that bio-plastics are a contaminant for traditional plastics, the segregation and removal of this material is essential before the plastics reprocessing phase. 

Recoup activities
Recoups first conference of the year is planned for April 29, at Central Hall in London, and will put a focus on maximising the collection of plastic packaging for recycling. A second conference is scheduled for October.

Later this year, we will be updating our key publication Recyclability by Design, a European industry recognised publication, which allows designers and specifiers to consider the products they put on to the market in an environmental context and products that lend themselves to being easy to collect, sort and reprocess.

2008 will also see the launch of our new quarterly publication Ecoplastics. More information will be available in due course.

For more information visit: www.recoup.org

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