Sunday, 21 October 2018

Plastic waste > East Devon's "high quality recycling now being transported to processing plants across the UK and Europe" > but where exactly does my recycling go?

Back in 2015, the District Council were looking at how to upgrade their recycling systems:
Futures Forum: Trialing new rubbish and recycling services in East Devon >>> for Feniton and Exmouth >>> report to Scrutiny Cttee >>> 'the improved recycling service with reduced residual waste collection is viable'

Earlier this year, they announced one such new system:

East Devon invests £420,000 in new recycling machinery

4 May 2018

High quality recycling now being transported to processing plants across the UK and Europe

East Devon District Council has invested in a giant sorting and baling machine to separate more than 5,000 tonnes of recycling a year collected from residents across the district.

The council’s new machine at the Greendale Resources Recycling Centre has been built specifically to handle the high amounts of recycling that East Devon residents collect every day. Fifteen months ago the district was recycling 43% of its waste every week. Today, residents recycle an average 57% of their waste every week thanks to a new service introduced last year.

Using the latest technology, including a system of magnets and conveyors, the machine carefully sorts the recycling into individual types of materials and efficiently packs them in to bales. The bales are then sent direct from East Devon to processors across the UK and Europe to be turned in to new items.

Prior to the new plant being installed, mixed materials collected in the green sacks were transported loose and unsorted to Avonmouth, but only eight tonnes could fit in each lorry. Now that the materials are compacted and baled, up to 20 tonnes can be transported in a single load saving money and carbon emissions.

4 May 2018 - East Devon invests £420,000 in new recycling machinery - East Devon
East Devon invests in sorting and baling machine - letsrecycle.cm

And on 17th October this year, they updated their web pages, with the very pertinent question:

Where does my recycling go?


Household Plastics collected from the kerbside are taken by various companies to be recycled. The plastic is cleaned, shredded and used to remake other materials such as garden furniture, bins, insulation and fleece clothing. Plastic is lightweight and bulky so it is better if the bottles are flattened for recycling.

This is what happens at the new system:

Materials recycling facility
5. Plastics

An optical sorting unit separates out different types of plastics and plastic bottles then pass along a manual inspection line as a final quality check.

The plastics are then baled for transportation to a specialist recycling facility.

SUEZ UK | Materials recycling facility
East Devon Materials Recycling Facility, Unit 54, Greendale Business Park, Woodbury, Salterton, Devon, EX5 1EW, – Utility Locations

The trouble is that this is still very vague: where exactly are these bales destined for and how much gets made into other materials by the 'processors'?

Back in February this year, the head of Exeter City Council's facility questioned where we're at:

Matt Hulland, operational manager at the recycling centre, welcomes the new surge in public awareness, but says it's not enough. "There aren't enough mills that can process it. That's why it's exported, whether it be to Europe or the Far East. When you're looking at the circular economy package, rhetoric is great, plans are great, but the UK needs to put its money where its mouth is."

Futures Forum: Plastic waste > behind headline-grabbing gestures from government, citizens are taking the problem into their own hands

But why aren't we dealing with this ourselves?
Futures Forum: We should be following the "proximity principle" and dealing with our own recycling waste at home

See also:
Futures Forum: Plastic recycling and greenwashing
Futures Forum: SidEnergy visit to Exeter waste-to-energy plant >>> report: very positive and encouraging but still questions about recycling plastic waste... 

Sending plastic to the correct reprocessor - to EDDC - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

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