Debates continue as to what can and cannot be recycled and why supermarkets have packaging that cannot be recycled thus adding to the problem in addition to difficulties in being able to see what markings are on plastic packaging in order to decide whether it can go in the green bin or not. I have asked the Council’s Head of Waste Strategy for a general update on the current position. A precis of his advice is as follows:
“We appreciate that the messages about what can and cannot be recycled are not as straightforward as we would like. Ideally there would be more uniformity in the materials used on products and they would all be recyclable, and clearly marked up with the plastic type e.g. 1,2,4 etc., unfortunately this is not the case.
In our messages we try to strike the balance between being technically accurate and trying to keep it simple and focus on the materials that are most recognisable and represent the larges proportion of post-consumer plastic packaging that arises by weight e.g. plastic bottles.
As a general rule if different plastic types and materials on individual products can be separated from each other before going into the green bin, then this is naturally preferable, but the recycling process can cope with items such as window envelopes now.
In respect of plastic film, LDPE (type 2) can be recycled, this is the stretchy type of plastic film such as carrier bags, or the celophane around magazines. The slightly stiffer film which tears, such as that over ready-meals or plastic punnets of fruit if more difficult to recycle and therefore not something we want included in the green bins.
The market value of recyclable plastic materials has fallen sharply recently and whilst our contractor has managed to successfully source alternative markets we do not want to increase the range of plastics we can accept.”