Plastics 2020 Challenge launched

July 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm

It looks like there could be a new initiative in the plastics industry to increase recycling rates, as it has just launched a new campaign to get itself and others involved in recycling. The launch of Plastics 2020 is an attempt by the industry to set itself, consumers and the government the task of doing more to keep plastics out of landfill sites and to get them reused.

Launched in Westminster, the campaign already has the support of many MPs, and represents the first time that both processors and manufacturers have got together and set their own specific targets. The overall aim is to double the rate of plastic packaging recycling by the year 2020. The public will also be able to join in through a new website that has been launched, and numerous charities, including Friends of the Earth, will join in by taking part in various debates on the web.

One of the reasons the campaign has been launched now is that research from ComRes released recently showed that councils are not faring too well when it comes to meeting the targets they have been set for recycling next year. According to the research, a third did not think they would meet their targets next year, and a third didn’t think they would hit them between 2015 and 2020. This could lead to higher council tax bills as a result.

Calum Forsyth from Plastics 2020 said that although plastics are now “indispensable to our daily lives”, there is an “urgent challenge” to deal with their disposal as “time is running out”.

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Best before dates might go in order to save waste

July 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Many of us look at the food packaging and simply aren’t sure whether we should eat what’s inside or chuck it in the bin. If in doubt, we throw it out. But the government are now starting to get very worried about the damage this is doing to the environment and to the economy too. The estimated total sum of money spent in the unnecessary wastage of food in the UK is a whopping £10 billion every year.

The Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has called for action to be taken to make the best-before and display-before labelling on food items much clearer and possibly even scrapped in some cases. At present the retailers label their food with these dates so that they can properly manage their stock intake, as well as give information to the consumer about time limits for eating or drinking the item safely. The Department of Food and Rural Affairs is, however, concerned that it is only benefitting the retailers and not helping the customer or the environment.

The government sound keen to scrap the dates but the retailers insist this wouldn’t be a good idea. They feel they could bring in tougher rules that would make the labels easier to understand and which would ensure that all are laid out in the same way. There has been a lot of improvements in the packaging side of retailing, with the Trading Standards having a set-template for certain items so that they can see where some retailers are not abiding by the rules. DEFRA are working with the retailers in issues such as packaging, as well as restricting what materials go to landfills, so the dates look like they’ll be next on the agenda.

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Bottle recycling plant gets go ahead

July 10, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Recycling in Wales received a boost recently after WAG (the Welsh Assembly Government) provided a grant to Plastics Sorting Limited for a new plastic bottle recycling plant that will be constructed in Ebbw Vale.

It is the second grant given to the project by WAG. It originally gave £850,000 in September 2008, and this second grant of £450,000 means that the total has now risen to £1.3 million, which will really help to get things up and running.

The plant will have the capacity to recycle 20,000 tonnes of bottles a year. It will be able to sort the bottles and clean them, and will then recycle them so that they can be reused. It will be able to do this with PET and HDPE plastic bottles, and it is thought that the site will be fully functional by March 2010.

Jane Davidson from WAG said that the plant will be “a key part in making our vision for a society that produces as little waste as possible.”

She also highlighted the benefit that will come from more jobs and investment in the green sector.

On top of providing clean recycled bottles, the plant is going to increase its green credentials by not only using rainwater for the majority of its process water, but also using an anaerobic digestion facility nearby, which is a renewable source of fuel, to provide its electricity and heating. This will lead to a site that is not only providing an earth-friendly service, but is also environmentally friendly in its operation.

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M & S use recycled plastic bottles for food packaging

July 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Marks & Spencer have become the first supermarket in the UK to use food packaging made from recycled plastic bottles. Described as a “groundbreaking step forwards”, this move is part of the supermarket’s commitment to its sustainability pledge, Plan A, which has already seen the retailer take huge steps towards addressing issues such as climate change, ethical trade, health, the responsible use of natural resources and waste.

Many of Marks & Spencer’s ‘Food To Go’ salads are to be packaged in plastics which contain up to 40% recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). This has been used before in the manufacture of milk bottles (and is in common usage in synthetic fibres such as Terylene and Dacron), but it is thought that M&S are the first to use it in food packaging.

M&S has worked closely with Dagenham-based company Closed Loop Recycling, which also offers office workers in four large cities in the UK (Greater London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham) the opportunity to recycle their food packaging waste. It is hoped that by next year the scheme can be introduced nationwide.

The head of packaging at M&S, Dr Helene Roberts, described the initiative as “closing the loop” for food recycling in the UK. Consumers have long been pressurising the food industry to take a look at their green credentials and address the issue of sustainability of packaging.

Chris Dow of Closed Loop explained that each plastic bottle that is recycled reduces the carbon footprint by 55%, resulting in huge benefits for the environment.

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