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Plastics: Recycling

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the volume of plastic recycled in the United Kingdom compared to the volume shipped abroad. (156550)

Most material collected in the UK for recycling is processed in this country.

The total amount of plastic waste arising in the UK is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes a year. The Environment Agency estimates that the level of plastic exports by 2006 would have reached 440,000 tonnes a year. Figures on the amount of plastic recycled in the UK are not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions have been held with the plastics industry to ensure that the range of polymers and products does not create obstacles to recycling. (156551)

No formal discussions have been held.

Government cannot oblige producers to use specific materials in their packaging or products. In reality all polymers are recyclable, although in some instances it is not currently economic to do so. The Government are making it easier for local authorities to plan for, and put in place, the waste infrastructure that is needed on the ground in order to re-process more recyclable materials.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of incentives which could be adopted to encourage local authorities to promote kerbside and other methods of plastic recycling. (156553)

Additional funding for local authorities, including through the private finance initiative, has led to a major increase in kerbside recycling facilities. The Government’s Waste Strategy for England 2007 set a new national target for reducing the amount of household wastes not reused, recycled or composted, and increased national targets for the percentage of household waste recycled and composted. It also set a target for the amount of municipal waste recovered.

Technical advice on the collection of plastics for recycling is available for local authorities from the Waste Resources Action programme (WRAP).