A new end in sight for plastic packaging

17th June 2009

Trials run by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) shows that non-bottle household plastic packaging – margarine tubs, fruit trays and yoghurt pots which are a recycling bugbear for many consumers, can now be recycled. And new funding will stimulate UK recycling infrastructure to enable this to happen.

Much of this plastic packaging ends up in landfill, but WRAP’s research based on the trials shows this does not have to be the case. The work shows for the first time that collecting of non-bottle household plastic packaging, reprocessing it and finally manufacturing it into useful popular items, is both technically and commercially viable. Recycling of this plastic packaging is also the best environmental option.

This news comes as increasing numbers of householders are looking to recycle more. Now the business case is proven, WRAP is also launching a £2 million capital grant competition to help the recycling supply chain build the capacity for recycling more plastics packaging. At the moment, more than 180,000 tonnes of plastic bottles are collected for recycling in the UK. But currently there are very limited facilities to recycle non-bottle household plastic packaging.

Marcus Gover, Director of Market Development at WRAP said: “The grant is designed to help stimulate the development of waste management infrastructure and boost recycling capacity by at least 40,000 tonnes per year by 2011.”

“In support of the grant scheme, WRAP has also published further research designed to inform the choices and decisions made by local authorities and businesses at every stage of the plastics recycling process.

“The suite of research available looks at the opportunities and financial implications of recycling more non-bottle household plastics packaging and examines the practical and commercial viability of developing the next stage in the recycling chain.”

He added that the demand for more recycling options for non-bottle plastics packaging in the UK was being driven by consumers and that end markets for the recyclate would continue to grow both domestically and overseas.

“Estimates suggest that more than over one million tonnes of non-bottle plastic packaging enter the UK waste stream each year” he said.

“It is extremely visible, and householders increasingly want it to be recycled in the same way as other packaging materials such as glass, plastic bottles and cans.

“Plastic packaging has a value as a secondary material and it does not make economic or environmental sense to dispose of it in landfill.

“The funding and research being announced by WRAP will help to drive the creation of a world class recycling industry in the UK, diverting more waste mixed plastics packaging away from landfill and into production processes.”

The new capital grant competition for England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be launched on Wednesday, June 17th at The Cumberland Hotel, London. To reserve a place at the event – which will also feature the dissemination of the findings and conclusions of WRAP’s mixed plastics research - please call the WRAP Press Office on 01295 817872 or email toby.barker@wrap.org.uk

  • WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.
  • Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
  • More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on http://www.wrap.org.uk/
  • The work was commissioned by WRAP and undertaken by a consortium, led by Nextek Limited. The consortium included Sainsbury’s, Valpak, Bowman Process Technology, Closed Loop Recycling, Linpac and CeDo.
  • This capital competition is open for bids from England, Wales and Northern Ireland only. Scotland has a separate competition. For further details on this, please visit http://www.wrapscotland.org.uk/ 

Katie Wheater

PR Manager, WRAP
01295 817872