1000 tonnes of plastic waste reused thanks to innovative Council scheme

Over eight million pieces of packaging have been made out of recycled material in the last six months thanks to the recycling efforts of Cambridgeshire residents.

At the beginning of the year a UK first was launched between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership (RECAP) and Huntingdon-based plastic packaging manufacturer Charpak Ltd to see plastic waste collected across the county sorted, recycled, cleaned and re-manufactured into new products that can be recycled again and again.

During its first six months over 200 recycling trucks of plastic waste has been collected (over 1500 tonnes), 199 of which has been recycled and re-processed within the UK. 215 tonnes of this material has been returned to Charpak to manufacture packaging made from the recycled material.

In total 1000 tonnes of Cambridgeshire’s plastic waste has been re-used by packaging manufacturers across the UK.

Locally, an innovative partnership led by Huntingdonshire District Council, working with Charpak Ltd, and has seen discarded plastics collected, cleaned, reprocessed and reused all within our local area.

The council says the new approach, which has been 18 months in the making, has helped to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.

A spokesman for the district council said: "Our residents are already great recyclers diverting more than 55 per cent of waste from landfill. We need more plastics recycled and less going to landfill, so the next step is to improve the quality of materials that are collected for recycling. This can be done by ensuring no food is left in any plastic container, simply give the containers a wash, and place your recyclables into your bin loose. As for plastic bottles, give them a rinse, then squash and replace the lid before placing into the blue bin for recycling."

The initiative has also involved refuse firm Amey, which sorts the recycling, and Jayplas - which cleans and reprocesses the plastic ready to be reused in new packaging by Charpak.

Charpak Managing Director, Paul Smith said “We would ideally use all the recovered material. We ask for such high quality, our re-processors have needed to share the remainder of the recycled material with other packaging manufacturers.” He adds “1,000 tonnes of existing recycled material has been reused to make packaging, all within the UK. That means it’s not waste, it’s reusing valuable existing material and reduces the amount of new plastic that needs to be made.”

“We’re sharing this update during Recycle Week to show what can be achieved. Already saving over 200 refuse trucks from landfill and disposal in Cambridgeshire alone, imagine what could be achieved nationwide to reduce plastic waste when more people recycle more and recycle right. At Charpak we reuse the recycled and cleaned material again and again. It’s important to dispel the myth that all plastic packaging is bad and it ends up as waste. Already we have further development programmes with the recovery of other materials. It’s important to demonstrate what can be achieved when consumers, organisations and local authorities work together and the difference that can make.”