09 June 2008

Plastic Recycling

One less argument against plastic recycling programmes here in Coventry:

Britain is poised to make a dramatic leap forward in its recycling efforts with the opening of the nation's first "closed loop" recycling plant.

The £13m facility in Dagenham, east London, will turn millions of used drinks bottles and sandwich wrappers made out of PET (polyethylene teraphthalate) back into "clean" wrapping.

Some 1.2 million tonnes of mixed plastics from the UK – everything from salad bags to yoghurt pots and drinks bottles – end up as landfill every year.

The processes used in the new plant have been employed in Switzerland and Germany for over a decade. The plant can also process HDPE (high-density polyethylene), the super-tough plastic that milk bottles are made out of, producing pellets that can be turned back into fresh milk cartons.

Currently much of the UK's waste PET is shipped to plants in the Far East and China, before the recycled material is shipped back – pumping out tons of carbon along the way. It is estimated that food packaging currently accounts for between 5 and 10 per cent of each person's carbon footprint.