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Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proportion of plastics used in domestic, commercial and industrial markets is reclaimed for further use.

I have been asked to reply.Plastic materials, mainly thermoplastics, constitute approximately 3 per cent. by weight of total domestic refuse at present: that is less than 1 lb per house per week. Recycling into new plastics is difficult, because the plastic materials in domestic and commercial rubbish are often contaminated; they are mixed with other rubbish, and different polymers are mixed up together.The OXFAM Waste Saver scheme at Huddersfield has pre-separated domestic waste items, but has to rely on co-operation from householders. Apart from this scheme, there is at present virtually no recovery of plastic materials from domestic waste. The thermoplastic waste arising within the plastics industry itself is nearly all recycled, because its composition is known and it can be re-plasticised together with virgin plastic. A study of the possibilities for plastics recovery is being set up between the Waste Management Advisory Council and the British Plastics Federation. Further information can be supplied by these organisations.