UK plastics recycling levels will need to rise, say experts

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United Kingdom plastics recycling levels will need to grow if mandated targets are to be met, according to speakers at the 16th International Conference on Recycling of Plastics, which took place last month in Bad Neuenahr, Germany.

Approximately 2.5 million tons of plastic packaging enters the UK market every year. In 2012 around 644,000 tons (25 percent) were recycled; by 2017, 42 percent will be recycled, predicted waste consultancy Wrap. In order to achieve this target, current efforts will need to double, added the organization.

Today, more than 40 percent of plastic bottles are recycled due to the development of collecting systems in the last 10 years. For household rigids and films the recycling rates is still range below 5 percent, Roger Baynham of the British Plastics Federation (BPF) reported. Household collections will therefore need to expand dramatically, he added.

Baynham criticized the current PRN system, which he said leads to waste being exported rather than reprocessed in the UK. In 2010 736,000 tons of waste plastics were exported from the UK to China, he noted.

Barry Turner of Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) also slated the PRN system. Collections will have to be harmonized with recycling targets, exports regulated in a better way and demand for secondary raw materials stimulated, he told his audience.

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