Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Plastic bags: "The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible."

The council has said that it has to burn any plastic which doesn't end up in its recycling systems:
Futures Forum: District Council and plastic pollution >>> Sending plastic to the correct reprocessor: a follow-up FOI request >>> "Information not held"
Futures Forum: District Council and plastic pollution >>> What percentage is recycled, what percentage is incinerated and what percentage goes to landfill? Some answers received...
Futures Forum: 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?

This is because councils can't deal with much of the plastic:
Futures Forum: Councils cut plastic recycling
Futures Forum: "Poor quality of waste collected" in Devon
Futures Forum: "Rubbish rubbish collection" in East Devon

Which means nobody is dealing with much of this plastic:
Futures Forum: "The reason we have a dearth of good quality recycled material is because we have such poor collection infrastructure."

There are suggestions to improve the situation:
Futures Forum: Plastic and councils: there is no one-size-fits-all solution OR a “barmy” mass of different local approaches to recycling
Futures Forum: Plastic and councils: introducing national recycling standards
Futures Forum: Simplifying councils' household recycling collections in the government's resources and waste strategy

A big problem is that there are too many bags made of plastic which is too difficult to recycle - where ever the bags turn up: 

Why is so little plastic actually recycled?

August 3, 2018

A group of Danish and Swedish researchers have now tackled this exact question. Their answer? Money.

By: Nancy Bazilchukbased on an article by Bård Amundsen

Plastic waste includes grocery bags, cheese packages, food bags, containers, boxes and bottles. About 95 per cent of all Norwegians currently have access to the collection of plastic recycling, according to Grønt Punkt Norge. Nevertheless, roughly two-thirds of all household plastic likely ends up in the trash. The photo shows the Haraldrud recycling station in Oslo. (Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix)

Recycling is not just about consumers separating used plastics, paper, metal and glass into the right bin. It’s all about markets for our used goods.

A group of researchers decided to figure out why most plastic that is recycled in the Nordic countries eventually finds its way into the trash. The bottom line answer is simple: It’s just not profitable enough to use recycled products.

Markets don’t work

The researchers decided to look at the different parts of the value chain for plastic, in pursuit of clues for why plastic isn’t sought after as recycled material.

The biggest obstacle, they found, is that it is not profitable enough to make new products from used plastic.

Additionally, the market for recycled plastic simply doesn’t work. People who have recycled plastic to sell and people who need different types of plastics have a hard time finding each other. This is because the market for reusable products is so fragmented.

Plastic is too cheap

"Plastic is a material that is very suitable for recycling, as long as it is good quality," says Kari Anne Lyng, a researcher at Østfold Research. She did not participate in the new study, but studies the environmental impacts of products such as plastic.

Since new plastic is so cheap to produce, it can be difficult for recycled plastic to compete, she says.

"There are also a lot of different types of plastic. When plastic is collected from households, everything is put in the same container. This plastic must be sorted. And some trash may find its way into the mix, too,” she said.

"My particular feeling is that it's good that we make people recycle. But to get the maximum environmental benefits out of recycling, there must also be a market out there for what we want to recycle," she says.

More profitable to burn plastic

The researchers behind the new study interviewed many individuals from the recycled plastic industry in Denmark and Sweden. Several of the people who were interviewed said they believed it is very important to get the recycled plastic market to work better. Many also mentioned the need to reduce the number of different plastic types and as well as to reduce the number of different additives in plastic.

They also pointed out that it is currently more profitable to burn used plastic with other waste in an energy recovery plant to make electricity or for district heating than to recycle the plastic.

Why is so little plastic actually recycled? | ScienceNordic

The i newspaper has looked at the issues: 

Households using billions of throwaway plastic bags for bread, fruit and veg that aren’t recycled

'The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible,' Baroness Jenny Jones says

A shopper looks at a shelf of vegetables wrapped in plastics at a grocery store (Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday January 25th 2019

Households are using billions of throwaway plastic bread and fruit and veg produce bags a year – the vast majority of which aren’t being recycled, i can reveal.

Only one in 10 local authorities recycle plastic ‘film’ – which also includes plastic bags for frozen food, pet food, confectionery, cereal and toilet rolls as well as shrink wrap and magazine wrappings – according to the Recoup recycling charity.

It accounts for a quarter of all household plastic waste by weight and includes more than 3.5 billion bread bags and 1.3 billion fruit and veg bags a year. UK consumers use nearly three quarters of a million tonnes of it a year, almost all of which is incinerated.

“I’m deeply concerned that so much of our everyday lightweight plastic isn’t getting recycled – that has to change,” said Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones.

“The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible,” she said.

Hard to recycle

Plastic film is rarely recycled by councils because it’s difficult and costly to do so, MPs say. It typically has a much larger surface area than harder plastic items such as bottles and tubs – while also being much lighter. This makes it far more economic for cash-strapped local authorities – 47 per cent of which had their waste and recycling budget cut last year – to focus on harder plastics and to overlook film, they say.

“These plastic bags have been ignored by policymakers because they are so light that they don’t make a huge contribution to our recycling goals. They are not really part of the municipal set of objectives,” said Mary Creagh MP, chair of the cross party Environmental Audit Committee.

“But they are hugely damaging if they get into the environment, where they can ensnare wildlife,” she added.

Carrier bags ‘also need improvement’

As well as the vast numbers of fruit, veg and bread bags that aren’t getting recycled, nearly 2 billion supermarket bags-for-life and single-use carrier bags are going unrecycled because only one in five UK councils recycle them, according to Wrap, the waste and resources charity.

Carrier bag use has reduced dramatically since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced but there is still much scope to cut their use further and to recycle far more of them, campaigners said.

Plastic bags of all types can blow from bins or landfill sites into the street and on into fields and rivers, eventually finding their way into the sea, causing problems for wildlife along the way.

Plastic tax

Retailers say they are making their packaging easier to recycle and switching to alternative materials in some cases (Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

An Environment Department spokesman said: “We are driving further, faster action with our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy which will cut our reliance on single-use plastics and help tackle the problem of packaging by making producers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing their packaging waste.”

The government has also proposed a tax from 2022 on all plastic packaging – including film – that isn’t made from at least 30 per cent recycled material.

It hopes that forcing supermarkets and manufacturers to foot the bill for disposing of the plastic they generate and increasing the amount of recycled material they must use will provide an incentive to improve infrastructure and recycling rates for plastic film.

Meanwhile, a government proposal to bring greater consistency to recycling and collection across all UK local authorities should reduce household confusion about what they can’t and can’t recycle and make film recycling easier, campaigners said.

Local Government Authority environment spokesman Councillor Martin Tett said: “The best way to boost recycling rates is to prevent unrecyclable waste from entering the environment in the first place.”

“Councils are keen to work with supermarkets and manufacturers so that they can switch to recyclable packaging where possible,” he said.

What should be done to reduce plastic film waste?

The ultra-thin plastic bags used in supermarkets for loose fruit and vegetables should be banned and replaced by paper and reusable cotton bags, MPs and campaigners say. Supermarkets give out 1.3 billion plastic produce bags a year and pre-wrap hundreds other lines such as avocados and tomatoes in plastic ‘film’. Critics say much of packaging this is unnecessary and want to force supermarkets and customers to use alternative materials where possible.

“We took a big step forward when we dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags because the government put a charge on them,” said Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones. “It’s time we followed through with a combination of further charges and also a straightforward ban on plastic packaging where there is an obvious alternative,” she said.

Greenpeace UK plastics campaigner Elena Polisano added: “Supermarkets must immediately take bold steps to eliminate unnecessary packaging for fruit and vegetables and switch away from using problem plastics for things like bread packaging to opt for easily recyclable materials instead.”

The Government also said the supermarkets should look to cut their plastic use. “All companies, including supermarkets, have a clear responsibility to cut unnecessary packaging, reduce waste going to landfill and increase the amount of this waste that’s recycled,” a government spokesman said.

‘Significant responsibilities’

The local government association’s environment spokesman, councillor Martin Tett said: “Producers have significant responsibilities to the communities and environments in which they operate. It’s only fair that they contribute to the cost of clearing up packaging made from types of plastic that are difficult to recycle.”

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, pointed out that supermarkets had already taken great strides to reduce their throwaway plastic use, cutting down on items such as straws, stirrers and cotton buds. They are also improving make their packaging easier to recycle and switching to alternative materials in some cases.

The Environmental Services Association, which represents the waste companies, acknowledged the level of plastic film recycling was too low.

Jakob Rindegren, the association’s recycling policy advisor, hopes that government proposals to improve waste management by making supermarkets and manufacturers pay for disposing their waste “should encourage producers to ensure their packaging is recyclable either through packaging design or providing funding to new collection or recycling solutions.” At the moment, producers only have to pay 10 per cent of the cost.

Households using billions of throwaway plastic bags for bread, fruit and veg that aren't recycled - inews.co.uk

No comments: