In order to increase the tonnage of plastics recycled in 2012, there will need to be investment in technology and equipment to extract a wider range of materials said Axion Consulting director Keith Freegard.
With UK PET and HDPE bottle recycling rates nudging 50 per cent, he said that there will need to be investment to extract a wider range of materials from mixed plastics collections.
He added: “To get even higher bottle recycling rates, UK Plc has to find viable technologies to deal with mixed rigid plastics, films and the inevitable residuals. Kerbside collection data points to a huge untapped source of rigid, non-bottle packaging items becoming available as local authorities offer collections of more household plastics, as well as an often-ignored, high volume of post-consumer films.”
Freegard warned that while full mixed plastics collections are popular with local authorities, the infrastructure is not yet in place to properly process the material and to also extract value from packaging plastics and films.
“Today’s primary sorting materials recycling facilities (MRFs) and bottle-sorting plastic recovery facilities (PRFs) were developed in response to PET and HDPE recyclate demand,” he added. “Next generation infrastructure must be capable of extracting value from other rigid plastics and films if we are to achieve overall plastic packaging recycling targets.
“People are realising we need to tackle more difficult waste streams. One solution would be to build more integrated resource parks where varied and mixed waste streams can be processed in complementary ways. For example, residual materials from sorting commingled waste streams can be used as an energy source to provide local heat and power for adjacent washing and reprocessing units.”
He also said that there will be more need for sophisticated modelling, sampling and analysis services of MRF input and output.