RECOUP survey shows progress in plastic packaging collection for recycling 

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RECOUP Survey 2018
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Charity RECOUP has launched its annual UK Household Plastics Collections Survey which has found that there is a steady progress in the plastic packaging being collected for recycling. 

According to the report, local authorities are continuing to perform, and there is greater consistency in materials being collected for recycling from kerbside, which needs to be exploited to drive material quality.  

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Only four local authorities in the UK do not provide a kerbside recycling collection service that includes plastic bottles, but they aim to have a service in place by 2019, said RECOUP. 

Nearly 80% of local authorities collect plastic pots, tubs and trays as part of their kerbside service.  

While the 2018 survey reported 527,010 tonnes of plastics packaging was collected for recycling from households in 2017, the data reflects a collection rate of 59% for plastic bottles and 33% for plastic pots, tubs and trays.  

However, while there are opportunities to increase the amount collected for recycling, the report said that the quality of material is “increasingly becoming a concern”.  

Local authorities said the reasons for consumer confusion include conflicting national media messages, language barriers, and people not understanding it, although 47% of the authorities in the UK reported that they received budget cuts for collection and communications and were unable to secure the resources with their residents.  

The charity reported that 49% of local authorities are planning a communication about plastics recycling, with 91% including reducing contaminating in their communications, and nearly 100% being interested in a match funded partnership to provide plastics recycling communications to residents.  

RECOUP technical manager Steve Morgan said: “Although plastic bottles have seen the biggest increase in collections for three years, with volatile export markets the drive for quality is needed throughout the plastics recycling value chain. The opportunities are there. There are still nearly 600,000 tonnes of rigid plastics packaging that could be collected for recycling, but the consumer is often unaware how they can make a difference by their individual actions, both by what plastics packaging they can recycle in their local area and how to present it for recycling.  

“There is still work to be done to develop reliable markets for some fractions of plastics, and to remove some of the discrepancies within the detail of how pot and tray recycling messages are given to the public.” 

RECOUP has also announced that its plastics initiative Pledge 4 Plastics has changed its name to Pledge 2 Recycle Plastics and will continue to provide resources and be a catalyst in consumer communications on plastics recycling in the UK. 

New resources have also been produced which can be adapted for each authority and are aimed at tackling the detail of how to present plastics packaging for recycling and identify key items of confusion that lead to contamination.  

The Recoup Plastics Recycling Conference takes place on 27 September in Peterborough. More info is here http://www.recoup.org/p/298/recoup-conference-2018 

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