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Posts Tagged ‘PET’

Swiss recycling report prompts backlash

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

EuPR (European Plastics Recyclers) has dubbed a Swiss report that suggests landfilling could be preferable to recycling for PET bottles as “unwise”.

The report from SRI Consulting – entitled “PET’s Carbon Footprint: To Recycle or Not to Recycle” – analysed the carbon footprint of PET bottles and secondary packaging from the production of raw material to disposal. It concluded that landfilling for plastic bottles could have a lower carbon footprint than recycling in countries with recycling yields of lower than 50%.

In response, Casper van den Dungen, Chairman of the EuPR PET Working Group, has said that the report’s analysis would result in the loss of “valuable material in landfills”. Mr van den Dungen argues that the model used in the report is intrinsically wrong, as in reality landfill should be avoided as a starting principle. “These kind of studies are hazardous because they are bringing a wrong message to the population that their efforts to recycle are useless,” he says. “It goes against all the efforts achieved during the past decades in order to reduce litter.”

SRI Consulting found that deposits and segregated collections resulted in a higher yield than kerbside collections in terms of generating material to replace virgin PET in new products. The report’s authors say that the aim should be to boost the yield to more than 50% of material being collected being turned into new products. “This key is not in raising collection rates, but in improving yields, especially in sorting and to a lesser extent in reprocessing,” comments Mike Arné, Assistant Director of SRI Consulting’s carbon footprint initiative. “For countries without a recycling infrastructure and sufficient space, the best choice may well be to landfill bottles.”

Loan fund set to boost plastics recycling

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

On Tuesday of this week, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) launched a mixed plastics loan fund worth £2 million to boost reprocessing of plastics waste in the UK. The measure is aimed at increasing the recycling of everyday items such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and food trays. This move could help to raise the profile of non-woven carrier bags, which are manufactured from recovered PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – typically, plastic bottles.

Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its loan fund will provide valuable capital support to investors in mixed plastics reprocessing plants across the country. This comes at a time when the market price for recovered PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is at a record high. Despite this, 90% of mixed plastics in our UK waste are still going to landfill.

Marcus Gover, Director of Market Development for WRAP, commented, “A reduction in available capital brought on by the current economic climate, together with recent market price volatility in recovered materials has meant that the risk-reward balance is still a barrier to private sector investment in mixed plastics recycling in the UK. By establishing a loan fund, as opposed to offering a capital grant, investors can pay back the money after they start making a profit and WRAP can re-invest those funds into more support for the mixed plastics market.”

UK householders dispose of 1.7 million tonnes of mixed plastics every year and it is estimated that only 20,000 tonnes of this is diverted from landfill. Paul Davidson, Plastics Sector Specialist for WRAP, believes that PET recycling could be worth up to £500 million a year to the UK economy. “At the moment the UK exports all of its recovered non-bottle plastics, mostly to China,” he said. “If we closed the loop through increased collections and reprocessing of mixed plastics, the economic benefits could be startling.”

Figures just released by Petcore (PET containers recycling Europe, a non-profit trade association based in Brussels) show that European post-sorting PET collection reached 1.4 million tonnes in 2009, an increase of more than 8% on 2008. The overall collection rate in 2009 rose by almost 2.5% – from 46% to 48.4% – of all PET bottles on the market.

It is estimated that there is a total mechanical reclamation capacity in Europe of 1.6 million tonnes. This provides the impetus for the industry to increase the current collection rate beyond 50%. Exports to the Far East fell slightly to 16% of collected PET and 67,000 tonnes of baled PET bottles were imported from outside the area. Of the collected bales that are reprocessed in Europe, only 75% is usable PET – the remainder consists of caps, labels, residues, foreign materials and other polymers. Interestingly, the continuing programme of bottle weight reduction results in caps and labels forming a greater proportion by weight of the collected PET.

Commented Roberto Bertaggia, Chairman of the Petcore Board, “I should like to congratulate members of the PET industry chain who have worked with Collection Agencies, National Bodies and European Recyclers to increase the collection rate to nearly 50% of all PET bottles placed on the market. For the collection of PET bottles in Europe to increase by more than 8% in such difficult economic circumstances is a real achievement.”