Exports fuelling growth in packaging waste recycling rates

Growth in the UK recycling market is chiefly being driven by exports with 37% of packaging waste volume being shipped to countries such as India and China, according to a new report.

The Envicura study, which focuses on flexible packaging waste in the municipal waste stream, states that plastic bags account for around 90% of flexible waste recycling, with 95% of that going abroad.

It adds that general packaging accounts for around 20% of municipal waste, with flexible packaging making up just 13% of packaging waste – equating to 3% of the total municipal waste stream.

However over 80% of flexible packaging waste still goes to landfill and the report set out to explore how this could be addressed through lifecycle procurement, production, waste collection and treatment.

Commenting on the report, author Steve Hillam said: “Despite the small proportion of the municipal waste stream accounted for by flexible packaging, so much of it is landfilled that it demonstrates a real need for new materials and new waste management methods.”

The report’s findings should prove useful for flexible packaging film producers, converters, users and those involved in the handling of post-consumer waste such as food manufacturers, retailers, waste management companies and local authorities.

A copy of the study Flexible packaging in the UK municipal waste stream 2011 can be found here

Maxine Perella

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