Only One-Third Of Plastic Packaging Recycled In UK
Figures obtained by UK food retailer The Co-operative Group have revealed that two-thirds of all recyclable plastic packaging is being sent to landfill or incinerators, it reported Tuesday.
Of 1.5 million tonnes of consumer goods packaging produced each year, only half a million ends up in the appropriate recycling channels.
The group found that the main reasons behind the dearth of recycling was consumers' understanding of recyclable materials, as well as authorities' abilities to process different kinds of packaging.
Seventy-seven per cent of those surveyed were unsure about recycling soft plastic, whereas 59% were uncertain about recycling hard plastic items such as tubs.
Figures from local authorities throughout the UK showed that while nearly 100% of them recycled plastic PET bottles, only three-quarters could recycle hard plastics such as yoghurt containers, and only 18% could recycle plastic film.
Iain Ferguson, environment manager of Co-op , said,"It is shocking that such a small percentage of plastic packaging is being recycled, especially materials that are already easy to recycle like plastic bottles. We are concerned that so much still goes to landfill every year."
It is the company's longterm goal to have only recyclable packaging in its stores, whereas it hopes to have 80% recyclable packaging by 2020.
One change that the company has recently made is to remove the polyethylene heat seal layer from their amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (aPET) trays for meat, poultry and fish. The heat seal layer is generally required so that the film can be sealed securely to the tray. The company said it has pioneered new technology which allows the film lid to attach securely to the tray without the need for a heat-seal layer, making it a single material and therefore much easier to recycle.
The Co-operative Group was the first retailer to join The Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan, which was launched in 2015 to help retailers collaborate to meet government plastic packaging targets.
The plan was designed by WRAP, a not-for-profit focusing on resource efficiency, industry bodies and trade associations from across the plastics packaging value chain.
© 2016 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.