Waste News

Two thirds of consumer plastic going to waste

Plastic Pollution

According to figures released by the Co-op only one-third of plastic packaging used in consumer products is being recycled each year.

This means that out of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste used by consumers last year, only 500,000 tonnes were recycled.

The rest will have gone to landfill or incineration sites.

Recycling groups have expressed concern that much of the cause is down to uncertainty about what items can be recycled alongside lack of provisions by local authorities.

To coincide with the data release, the Co-op has launched an 80 per cent recycling rate by 2020, and has redesigned and simplified its packaging to make this ambition a reality.

According to the survey, consumers were most diligent with the recycling of plastic bottles, with people recycling 57 per cent of plastic bottles used by UK households every year.

Around 30 per cent of all plastic pots, tubs and trays were recycled but the worst offender was found to be plastic film products, including carrier bags, pasta and rice bags, and ready meal film, which was recycled at a rate of 3 per cent.

Much of this is down to the fact that only 20 per cent of local authorities in the country provide a recycling service for these materials.

Ian Ferguson, Co-op environmental manager 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 need to stop thinking about this plastic as a waste and start to use it as a resource.

“What is needed is a co-ordinated response to the problem. This should start with retailers and major brands listening to recyclers and developing packaging that is better for recycling.”

In related news, it was announced today that plastic bags on British beaches has dropped by half since the 5p levy that was introduced one year ago.

The Marine Conservation Society, which conducts an annual September clean-up, said that it found just under seven bags per 100 metres of coastline, compared to 11 only last year.

This represents the lowest number in a decade.

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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