Recycling plastic into end applications that displace virgin plastics can save on average two tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of plastic recycled. There is a wide range of markets for them and increasingly these include full closed loop recycling back into packaging.
The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year. It is increasingly being used in packaging, construction and automotive markets.
Plastic is light weight and versatile, making it an ideal material for many applications.
- Cars are increasingly using plastic components in an effort to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel consumption.
- Food is being repackaged in plastic rather than glass or tin in order to reduce weight and product damage.
Many uses for plastic are in products with a relatively short lifespan. In the case of packaging, most packaging has fulfilled it’s first use within 6 months, yet it doesn’t biodegrade and will last for decades.
Plastic is a valuable and finite resource and environmentally the optimum use for most plastic after its first use, is to be recycled – preferably into a product that can be recycled again.
The demand for recycled plastic is very strong, both from UK manufacturers and overseas markets. Most plastic that is collected from industrial, commercial or domestic sources is readily sold and manufactured into new products. Recycled plastic is used as a replacement for prime (virgin) plastic or in products that use recycled plastic as an alternative material.
The UK currently recycles or recovers approx. 19% of all plastic consumed. This is set to increase to over 25% by 2010.
Overall, recycling plastic…
- Reduces the volume of waste going into landfill.
- Reduces the amount of oil used for plastic production.
- Reduces the amount of energy consumed.
For manufacturers, clients and retailers adopting a policy of specifying recycled materials has a number of significant benefits:
- Cost advantage in the majority of applications.
- Strategic material source, less dependent on commodity plastic pricing.
- Positive corporate social responsibility (CSR) indicator.
- Positive PR opportunity.
- Strategic approach to alleviate the risk of more mandatory measures (e.g. packaging taxation).