A £2 million capital grant competition has been launched by the Waste & Resources Action Programme to help build facilities for recycling more mixed plastics packaging. This refers to both rigid and flexible plastic packaging found in the UK household waste stream, such as yoghurt pots and food trays but excludes plastic bottles.
WRAP wants the funding to stimulate the development of waste management infrastructure and boost recycling capacity for mixed plastics by at least 40,000 tonnes per year by 2011.
Recyclers eligible for support in England and Northern Ireland will be able claim up to 30% of the finance required to develop and expand their processes.
The grant announcement ties in with the publication of results from three research projects initiated by WRAP, investigating the commercial feasibility of recycling greater volumes of mixed plastics in the UK. This work was undertaken by a consortium led by Nextek and included Sainsburys, Valpak, Bowman Process Technology, Closed Loop Recycling, Linpac and CeDo.
According to WRAP director of market development Marcus Gover, demand for more recycling options for mixed plastics packaging is being driven by consumers and end markets for the recyclate will continue to grow both domestically and overseas.
Estimates suggest that more than three million tonnes of post-use plastic enter the UK waste stream each year, and a considerable proportion of this is mixed plastics packaging, he said.
The funding and research being announced by WRAP will help to drive the creation of a world class recycling industry in the UK, diverting more waste mixed plastics packaging away from landfill and into production processes, he said.
What did the research find?
- It is technically viable to recycle mixed plastics on a commercial scale and there are end markets for more than 95% of this material
- Materials recycling facilities are able to sort mixed plastics without impacting on the quality of other materials but films should be removed at an early stage
- There is potential for MRFs to be modified to sort mixed plastics
- Retail take back schemes for mixed plastics can provide excellent quality material with little contamination of other material types. But over half the material recovered in these trials was plastic bottles
- A plastics recovery facility and reprocessor on one integrated site will be more efficient and produce less residual waste through increased recovery yields
An exclusive Q&A with WRAPs special advisor on plastics, Paul Davidson, will appear in the June 26 issue of MRW.