3 Facts About Plastic Packaging Waste

Latest DEFRA Waste Recycling Data 

There is a great deal of misinformation about plastic waste.  In this blog, we review three key facts relating to the latest DEFRA data (from 2016) on plastic packaging waste (published in February 2018).

Plastic Packaging Waste

The Amount of Plastic Packaging Waste

UK households generated 1,015,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2016.  This is actually 12% lower than in 2012, although the amount has been relatively stagnant since 2103.  In 2016, 20% of all packaging waste was plastic (by weight), although this percentage would be far higher if measured by volume due to the low bulk density of the material.

A Rising Recycling Rate

45% of plastic packaging was recycled or recovered in 2016 compared with 25% in 2012.  The 2016 figure is higher than the EU target of 22.5%.  Since the beginning of 2018, the UK Government has set a new recycling and recoverable target of 57% by 2020.  This means that new strategies are needed to raise the rate by 12% in just four years.

Plastic Packaging Recycling Rates

However, there remains a question about what to do with the plastic once it has been recovered.  The UK still exports a large proportion of its waste, but this is still classed as being ‘recovered’ and is included in the 45%.  Since China closed their doors to waste, plastic waste has being shipped to countries around the world, including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.  This is not a sustainable solution, but it not reported in the statistics.  An increasing amount of plastic waste is expected to remain in the UK and it is unclear how it will be managed.

Plastics Recycling Plants

It is widely accepted that there are not enough plastic recycling plants in the UK.  In the past, it has been difficult to economically operate a plant with high costs associated with equipment investment and site difficulties due to the flammable nature of plastic waste.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn

FF Drawer Filter Magnets (supplied by Bunting Magnetics Europe Ltd) removing metal from plastic waste to enable recycling

One successful plant is located near Wrexham in North Wales where EcoVyn process 1,000 tonnes per month of good quality plastic waste.  EcoVyn installed several Drawer Filter Magnets to remove ferrous metal contamination from the granulated plastic.

The Future

There has been a huge change in the public perception of plastic waste since the showing of the BBC series Blue Planet II in 2017.  This has forced politicians to start taking action, although is enough being done?

For further information on metal separation equipment designed for removing metal from plastic waste and in other recycling applications, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
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