BEING BETTER AT RECYCLING
It’s no wonder that UK recycling rates are not higher, when existing schemes are so lacking in common objectives or standards. Yet there are some really encouraging signs of progress. At Zenith’s UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference last week, one of the speakers was Chris Dow, who came over from Australia after the Sydney Olympics to become Managing Director of Closed Loop Recycling, which has now opened the world’s first recycling operation that converts both PET and HDPE bottles into granules for reuse in new bottles. Then we visited the plant itself. I was greatly impressed. What did I learn ? First, some remarkable statistics. In 2004 the UK recycled less than 40,000 tonnes of plastic bottles. In 2007 the amount had quadrupled to 182,000 tonnes. Figures are not finalised for 2008, but the expectation is around 230,000 tonnes. In 2007 the country’s total plastic bottle use was 550,000 tonnes (300 PET, 220 HDPE and 30 other), meaning we recycled 34%. Today the proportion could be above 40%. Second, I discovered quite a bit about why we’re not doing better. And this is serious, because we could so easily achieve much more.
- There are more than 150 different local authority schemes for waste collection in the UK today.
- One in four Councils do not provide kerbside collection for plastic.
- Most schemes require a high level of commitment from the public.