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Plastics: Waste Management

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for incentives to companies proposing to invest in innovative plastics reprocessing facilities in England. (183630)

My Department is funding the following work to provide incentives to companies proposing to encourage investment in plastics reprocessing.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme's (WRAP) current manufacturing programme is developing major projects that switch significant manufacturing processes from virgin material to recycled material input. This includes projects to incorporate up to 30 per cent. of recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) in the manufacture of one-quarter of the UK's plastic milk bottle production. This work involves capital support for new equipment and work with local authorities to increase collection of plastic bottles. The new demand created by the project is encouraging the development of plastics reprocessing facilities. Furthermore, WRAP is providing direct support through its business growth programme to develop the recycling sector.

WRAP is also 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.

WRAP is also currently finalising its business plan for the three-year period April 2008 to March 2011. This is likely to build on its present work on plastics collection, reprocessing and end markets, with the intention of incentivising further investment in each of these areas.

We also support industrial symbiosis via the UK wide National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP). With over 10,000 members, NISP employs industrial symbiosis to bring together companies from all business sectors with the aim of improving cross industry resource efficiency through the commercial trading of materials, energy and water and sharing of assets, logistics and expertise.

Over the last three years, NISP has helped industry release over £16.2 million in private investment in plastics reprocessing facilities across the UK. Working with over 70 companies nationwide specifically on plastic reprocessing, NISP has helped recover almost 60,000 tonnes of plastics through landfill diversion, whilst actively helping to safeguard over 90 jobs and generating a further 39 new jobs in the plastics reprocessing industry through increased sales and cost savings of over £32 million.

For example, NISP has been working with Chem Polymer Ltd. to secure private investment of over £1 million which has led to the generation of over £10 million in increased sales. Working on landfill diversion of plastic wastes, NISP has helped Petlon Polymers Ltd. generate sales in excess of £10 million as a result of increased plant throughput.