Packaging recycling figure of over 70% targeted

March 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

In support of its mission to increase packaging recycling rates across the country, the government has just released a new publication which contains plans to revise the Producer Responsibility Obligations Regulations 2007. In the new document it calls for the recycling of packaging to be increased to over 70% by 2020, a target that has attracted strong criticism from many quarters for being unreasonable.

One of the strongest sources of opposition has come from the plastics industry. The government wants to achieve a recycling rate of 56.9% for plastic packaging by 2020, compared to 22.8% at the moment. The British Plastics Federation has said that this is simply not achievable, and that, although it is in favour of increasing recycling targets, this is just too much, too soon.

Even with the funding, the British Plastics Federation claims that the target cannot be met by 2020. It has also warned that trying to increase targets too quickly could even have a negative effect by forcing the industry to increase its use of energy and water. It also claims that improved infrastructure and better recovery of materials are required in order to reach the new targets.

But it is not just the plastics industry that has complained: the aluminium industry also derided the figures as unachievable. The executive director of Alupro (Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation), Rick Hindley, said that “the proposed 70% target is not achievable” and that a “65% target would be a fairer target”.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), which released the targets, said in response to the criticisms that the targets were “stretching but attainable”.

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Viridor opens WEEE recycling plant in UK

March 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

The problem of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is one that has been growing in recent years. As this waste cannot simply be thrown out with normal rubbish and sent to landfill, often a lot of it ends up in third-world countries for sorting.

Now a new WEEE recycling facility has been opened in St Helens by Viridor. The plant will recycle electrical products from all over the UK, taking in WEEE from homes and businesses as well as hospitals and schools.

Viridor claims that the plant will be capable of processing 40,000 tonnes of WEEE every year – that’s over six tonnes every hour. The products will be separated out into reusable materials such as glass and metal, which can then be used in new products.

This is the second recycling plant for the company, with the other one situated in Perth. The St Helens facility cost £9 million to construct, and is divided into two sections, one for fridges and one for smaller WEEE. Recycling small WEEE is a completely new area for the company.

The managing director of Viridor, Mike Hellings, is quoted on as saying that the company “can recover 90%” of the materials from the products that go for recycling.

In separate news, another new WEEE processor has been opened by EnvironCom in Grantham. This is the biggest facility in the UK, consisting of four plants, allowing it to process and recycle over 100,000 tonnes of WEEE a year.

Such advancements in the recycling of WEEE products will hopefully lead to the UK recycling its electrical waste much more efficiently in the future, so less of it ends up getting dumped in other parts of the world.

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New scheme offers live webcams to help customers beat the queue

March 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

As the days gradually become longer and also are ultimately warmer, our thoughts tend to turn towards our neglected gardens. Trimming hedges, removing weeds and D.I.Y tree surgery all result in a lot of recyclable garden waste. What follows is an inevitable trip to the local recycling depot where unsurprisingly we discover everyone else has had the same idea.

Now a new scheme proposed by Buckinghamshire council intends to put an end to queues at recycling depots by beaming live pictures of recycling sites over the web thus helping customers to beat the queues. The aim is that when customers see the length of queues they will either wait for a quieter time or head for a different depot thus making the whole process more efficient.

The scheme which proposes to have webcams installed at all major recycling sites in Buckinghamshire has been met by a mixed reaction by the general public. Some people believe it is an excellent idea which they will take full advantage of, whilst others are bemoaning the council for wasting money, when cuts in other areas are both necessary and imminent.

Councillor for Waste, Martin Tate, believed the move showed that the council were beginning to really utilise the potential of their website and that it showed “real customer focus and commitment to improving things.” This was supported by Council leader, David Shakespeare, who said the scheme meant, "the public gets a real tangible benefit".

Whether customers choose to use the new webcams or whether they actually reduce queues is something which can only been seen over time, when the cameras are actually installed. However, should the scheme prove a success it will be interesting to see whether in the future we will all be logging on to our computers before heading out to our local recycling depot.

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Extra funding to help Scotland reach recycling targets

March 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

The Scottish government has pledged an additional £7 million to help local authorities in Scotland meet their recycling targets. The money will be put into the Zero Waste Fund and will go to the 14 of Scotland’s 32 councils that have not yet met the recycling target of 40% of municipal waste.

This target has been set for the whole country by the end of 2010, with the target figure rising to 50% by the end of 2013 and 70% by the end of 2025. In the year to September 2009, only 35.9% of municipal waste in Scotland was recycled.

Recycling figures for Scotland’s local authorities vary dramatically. Glasgow recycles only 20.3% and is missing its target by 67,000 tonnes a year. Aberdeen’s recycling rate is 25%, with Edinburgh at 30.7% and Dundee at 38.4%.

The Scottish Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, announced the funding boost and also announced plans for a national campaign to get everyone in the recycling habit. Despite only 18 out of the 32 local authorities reaching their recycling targets, Mr Lochhead hailed it as a ‘fantastic achievement for some local authorities to be now recycling nearly half of their waste’.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s national waste policy unit manager, Kenny Boag, said that while the increase in the recycling rate was very encouraging, changes in lifestyle were needed to meet the greater challenges ahead.

Speaking to the BBC, the spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, Rosiaina Browning, also welcomed the recycling rate rise but reminded people that enough waste to fill the National Rugby Stadium, Murrayfield, was thrown out every day.

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