Product Design to Recycling Services – Time to Move Plastics Recycling Forward

Member based registered charity RECOUP continue to promote and bring to the attention of the industry and the wider public the opportunities available in plastics recycling.

RECOUP with their unique independent view point and knowledge are well placed to make connections to media, NGO’s, local and central Government, the recycling industry, manufacturers and designers of packaging, brand owners, and the consumer.   Understanding the complexities of all stakeholders, RECOUP, view the opportunities within plastics recycling coupled with technical advancements being made, promise a bright future for recycled plastics.

There is much work being done to align materials and reduce their complexities through consistency work. RECOUP continue to encourage packaging manufacturers and designers through their Recyclability By Design Guidance to ensure that packaging life cycle end destinations remain high on the agenda.  Packaging manufacturers and developers are able to utilise RECOUP’s Recyclability By Design Guidelines to aid in the production of packaging which looks at recyclability from the outset.   This document has gained wider following and RECOUP have been busy updating the guidelines with wider industry input and specific case studies.   The latest 2017 version will be presented at this year’s RECOUP Conference where many of the issues surrounding packaging recyclability and consistency will be discussed.

The most important aspect of the publication, the polymer specific recyclability tables, have been reviewed and revised for the updated version. To ensure the accuracy, RECOUP have engaged with sorting facilities and re-processors to ensure the information is current, informative and accurate.

RECOUP Packaging Technologist, Paul East, declared; “As the polymer specific recyclability tables are the most important and relevant part of the document, we are very grateful to members from the recycling industry for their valuable time, input and approval in reviewing and confirming the accuracy of the tables.” As with previous updates, RECOUP members have contributed their thoughts and opinions, to relay details of ongoing projects to improve the quantity and quality of recycled plastic packaging.

However, there still remains a gap between the purchase volume by the consumer of easily recycled plastics packaging (what we know goes into the home) and the volume placed by the consumer for recycling (what we know is collected kerbside).  The good news is that the message is getting through and the consumer is becoming more aware of not only what can be recycled, but that they can make a difference through their daily recycling efforts.   The tide could be said to be turning; the consumer is becoming aware.   There remains potential volume increase through endorsing the message to get potential material, whether on-the-go or household back into the system and the work that RECOUP continue to undertake through the Pledge4Plastics branded work.

Through their members, RECOUP, continue to assist to explore of recycling markets to increase the volume and quality of material feedstock.   Newton Waterproofing Systems are one such member who have, with RECOUP’s assistance, developed a ‘back to base’ recycling scheme for unusable off-cuts of HDPE waterproofing membranes which allows their customers to be able to return to Newton any waste material in dedicated bags.  The off cuts are returned to Newton’s head office in their dedicated vehicles (at the same time as deliveries are made) are shredded and then recycled.   The material is reprocessed into pellet which is incorporated in products for use within the construction industry.

Warren Muschialli, Managing Director of Newton Waterproofing Systems commented, “Every year, hundreds of tonnes of unused off-cuts of virgin and recycled cavity drainage membrane is sent to land-fill by the UK waterproofing industry, as there were no recycling facilities capable of collecting and recycling the materials.

These high-quality HDPE and HDPP membranes are designed to last for the lifetime of the buildings in which they are installed.

In response, Newton Waterproofing Systems have developed the Newton Membrane Recycling Service, the UK waterproofing industry’s very first closed-loop process for collecting, recycling and reusing the waste created by the installation of our cavity drain membranes.”

Stuart Foster, CEO, RECOUP, said of the scheme, “we are delighted that Newton Waterproofing Systems have taken the lead in looking at ways post-industrial plastics can be recycled by the construction industry.  Utilising RECOUP’s knowledge and membership links Newton have been able to improve and increase plastics recycling through their Membrane Recycling Service shows real commitment and foresight from the company’s leadership”.

Looking at end markets and product development which may stimulate demand, RECOUP support and encourage this innovation through the UK Best Recycled Plastic Product of the Year Award.   This year the finalists will be voted on by industry peers in a one delegate one vote system at the RECOUP 2017 Conference.

Mike Baxter, External Affairs Director, RPC bpi recycled products, commented, “right now plastics manufacturers and the plastics recycling industry are under the spotlight as never before; in particular from the press, the NGOs and politicians.  We believe our industry can be proud of its achievements with the amount of waste plastics recovered and recycled in the UK increasing year on year. The RECOUP Conference provides the ideal platform for promoting our industry’s successes whilst also discussing current issues with many of the key stakeholders, including representative from DEFRA, the EA, major brand holders and retailers plus many of the UKs largest plastics recyclers, an event not to be missed.”


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