My Department has no plans to commission specific research on the destination of non-bottle shaped and bottle-shaped plastic packaging originating from the household waste stream. Various data are already collected by this Department and HM Treasury on the handling and destination of plastic packaging.
Based on 2006 figures, the UK recovered 457 kilotonnes of plastic; comprising 22 per cent. of all plastic packaging entering the waste stream, which amounts to approximately 2.12 million tonnes. 166 kilotonnes of the plastic recovered is reprocessed in the UK and 291 kilotonnes is exported.
It is estimated that non-bottle mixed plastic packaging arising from the domestic waste stream is around one million tonnes per year. In 2006, around 132,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were collected and recycled from UK households.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is undertaking trials with a number of technologies with the aim of understanding the best ways to handle mixed plastics from an environmental, economical and technological perspective. The programme is investigating three main areas: collection, reprocessing, and end markets. Different recycling and recovery options are being considered as part of this work, including reprocessing mixed plastics into new plastics, incineration, chemical treatment and even turning them into diesel. WRAP'S focus on mixed plastics follows on from the successful uptake of plastic bottle recycling.
According to studies carried out by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on the plastic processing capacity/supply relationship, the indication is that the UK, along with most of Europe, in fact has excess capacity to process plastic waste. The exception to this is for plastic bottles, and to some extent waste electrical and electronic equipment plastics, where growth in collection has supported a substantial growth in reprocessing capacity.
However, this is a complex area, and much of the existing capacity is too old, too small or targeting the wrong end products. Many plants are therefore investing in new capacity or updating and consolidating existing plants, some with support from WRAP. WRAP has a number of projects designed to maximise the amount and quality of recyclate, including plastic, used in UK manufacturing operations.
WRAP'S focus on mixed plastics follows on from the successful uptake of plastic bottle recycling. Plastic bottle recycling has significantly increased in recent years, with around 132,000 tonnes of plastic bottles collected and recycled from UK households in 2006.