Unlocking the Future of Plastic Film Recycling in the UK: A Groundbreaking Trial
Overview: The Current Landscape
Plastic film collections are at a nascent stage in the UK, and the most effective method for collecting and optimising the recovery of plastic films at the kerbside remains unknown. Currently excluded from the core materials collected by most Local Authorities in Wales, plastic film is not yet part of the Welsh Government's Collections Blueprint. However, ambitions set out in the "Towards Zero Waste" and "Beyond Recycling" strategies are sparking interest in introducing plastic film collections on a broader scale.
At a UK level, proposed reforms to Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging include a mandate for plastic film collections from households and businesses by the end of 2026/27.
Past Endeavours: Setting the Stage
In 2018, WRAP Cymru embarked on a trial targeting post-consumer PE films, exploring the viability and costs of offering kerbside film collection to households. While the trial demonstrated that plastic films could be collected on a small scale, existing infrastructure and economic conditions posed challenges.
The New Frontier: A Game-Changing Trial
Building on past successes, our recent trial aimed to deepen our understanding of collecting plastic film through a kerbside sort collection system. Focused on 23,000 households in two south Wales local authorities, this initiative analysed the composition of collected material. Jayplas Ltd., our industry partner, then reprocessed the baled materials at its Smethwick site.
Key Achievements: Unleashing Potential
The trial exceeded expectations, collecting over 20 tonnes of material with an average set-out rate of 18.1%. Most materials met the trial's targets and were successfully recycled by Jayplas, contributing to the creation of new products. The comprehensive analysis showcased significant impacts on recycling rates, carbon equivalent emissions savings, and the potential for replication across Wales.
Strategic Insights: Scaling for Impact
If scaled across Wales, our findings indicate a potential increase of up to 0.89% in recycling rates through kerbside film collections. Moreover, the trial demonstrated carbon equivalent emissions savings of 10,700 tonnes CO2e compared to treatment by EfW (Energy from Waste).
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WRAP Cymru Plastic Film Kerbside Collection Trial 2021.pdf
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