U.K.-based WRAP's trials lead to methods for recycling black plastics, complex laminated plastics, plastic films and PP that are difficult to recycle and now make up more than 1 million tonnes being sent to landfills
November 10, 2011
– The Waste & Resources Action Programme has determined ways to recycle nearly all of the more than 1 million tonnes a year of plastic packaging that is still sent to landfill via residential collections in the U.K., reported Recycling Today on Nov. 8.
These materials include black plastics, which are difficult to detect and sort; complex laminated plastics that are hard to separate into their individual components; and plastics films, which are challenging to collect and recycled.
In addition, there is a lack of high-value markets for non-bottle plastics, according to WRAP, which released its findings for a series of trials on these materials, Recycling Today reported.
The most common plastics used in packaging, black plastics, could be more easily recycled if manufacturers used non-carbon pigments that would create a material nearly the same color but able to be identified by optical sorting equipment used at many materials recovery facilities, WRAP stated.
Plastic trays could be reused to make high-value, single-polymer materials, according to WRAP, which said it has received positive feedback from retailers, reported Recycling Today
Further research found a way to extract the high-value aluminum layer from complex laminated packaging, which in Britain’s waste stream accounts for about 140,000 tonnes/year of packaging with about 13,500 tonnes/year of aluminum.
WRAP is trying to find a way to use postconsumer polypropylene in a high-value food-grade application. A technique has been developed, but more research is needed, said the Banbury, England-based organization.
The Co-operative Group and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd., both of which are based in England, have found uses for plastic films that are being recycled in stores by customers and workers.
Contaminated film also is being cleaned and recycled through a system that makes pellets that sell for £400 (US$638) to £500 per tonne, Recycling Today reported.
WRAP is seeing its efforts to promote non-bottle plastic recycling, which began in 2007, become “a reality,” said Marcus Gover, director of closed loop economy at WRAP. While there are still “barriers to overcome,” WRAP will continue to partner with industry to develop technologies and methods to recycle all plastic packaging, he said.
More than 300,000 tonnes/year of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, WRAP said, reported Recycling Today
The primary source of this article is Recycling Today, Richfield, Ohio, on Nov. 8, 2011.