Recyclers and Manufacturers set for economic and environmental boost with release of new non-packaging plastics Quality Protocol

5th May 2009

A new Quality Protocol published today by the Waste Protocols Project, a joint WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and Environment Agency initiative, will simplify the recovery of waste non-packaging plastic – such as plastic pipes, toys and garden furniture - and make it easier for manufacturers to incorporate the material into new products.

Compliance with the Quality Protocol, which applies in England and Wales, will give plastics recyclers the opportunity to assure the quality and consistency of the materials they produce. This will help them take advantage of a range of business and environmental benefits, including potentially lower energy costs, increased revenue and significant reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide created through production processes.

Plastic converters or manufacturers who buy Quality Protocol compliant material may also benefit from a reduction in their material costs; and they will have the assurance that they are purchasing a fit-for-purpose, consistent and reliable non-waste product.

Produced in consultation with key stakeholders from the plastics industry, this new protocol works by establishing end-of-waste criteria for the production of secondary raw materials from waste non-packaging plastics. Crucially, recyclers and processors who comply with the protocol will be able to recover waste non-packaging plastic at an early point in the supply chain. When it has been converted into chips or flakes, for example, the material will no longer be subject to waste management controls.

Marcus Gover, Director of Market Development at WRAP, said: “This Quality Protocol will help industry recycle more of the estimated 1.4 million tonnes of non-packaging plastics waste generated in the UK every year. At present, around 160,000 tonnes of this material is recycled annually - so there is significant scope for increasing the recovery rates. It is now significantly easier for the recycling and manufacturing sectors to turn waste non-packaging plastics into valuable and useful products. The project is about improving business and resource efficiency, reducing waste to landfill and helping to tackle climate change.”

Martin Brocklehurst, the Environment Agency’s Head of Environment Protection External Programmes, said: “The Quality Protocols - End of Waste Project has an ongoing commitment to minimise regulations for businesses whose activities pose a low-risk to the environment. The project continues to simplify processes and procedures across the recycling and reprocessing supply chain. In the case of non-packaging plastics, the industry can now work to recover a greater proportion of this significant waste stream. It will be good for business and for the environment. By encouraging the recovery and re-use of the millions of tonnes of discarded raw materials currently lost in our waste, the project is now making a major contribution to resource efficiency in England and Wales.”

Alongside the Quality Protocol, a good practice guide has been published by the project to help collectors of waste non-packaging plastics ensure their processes are aligned with the new Quality Protocol. This document is available on the WRAP website at

The Non-Packaging Plastics Quality Protocol can be downloaded from the Environment Agency website at

The Non-Packaging Plastics Quality Protocol is the third Quality Protocol to be produced by the Waste Protocols Project. The project has also produced quality protocols for compost and flat glass. The process to select the next round of materials for quality protocol development is already underway.

About WRAP

  • 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

About the Environment Agency:

The Environment Agency is the leading public body for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. It's our job to make sure that air, land and water are looked after by everyone in today's society, so that tomorrow's generations inherit a cleaner, healthier world. More information on the Environment Agency’s work can be found at