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Plastics: Recycling

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the reprocessing of plastic waste in the UK. (261342)

The DEFRA-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) works to develop new markets for waste in the UK. WRAP has supported several companies, through a range of financial and technical assistance mechanisms, in developing new and existing plastic recycling businesses.

Since its creation, WRAP has provided over £3.1 million in capital grants to plastics recycling businesses. In the next five years, these will divert a total of over 270,000 tonnes of plastic waste from landfill.

Plastic bottle recycling has significantly expanded in recent years, with around 132,000 tonnes of plastic bottles collected and recycled from UK households in 2006. WRAP'S focus has therefore moved on to mixed plastics (plastic packaging other than plastic bottles).

WRAP has undertaken 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 has investigated three main areas: collection, reprocessing, and end markets. The trials showed clearly that it is economically viable to recycle the vast majority of the mixed plastics we currently send to landfill, and there are clear environmental gains in doing so. WRAP is now working with councils and industry partners to deliver mixed plastics reprocessing in the UK.