Collecting Mixed Plastics

Monday morning was spent attending the Waste Development Advisory Panel. Whilst I am not a voting member of this panel, I try to attend this panel as often as possible because the recommendations it makes has an impact on those I serve.

The first part of this meeting was taken up with the discussion of additionally collecting mixed plastics as part of the kerb-side collections. Generally, only milk containers and soft-drink bottles type plastics are collected. Most other types of plastics are simply thrown into the black bag because they are not collected. These in turn end up in land-fill. So something has to be done to rectify this problem.

The collection of these other mixed plastics is more of a reality because of the new Cornwall wide waste contract. However, it is not that simple because with any new scheme there is a cost. It is hoped this new collection scheme can take place from April 2012, subject to a business case stacking up.

Whilst the set-up costs will not cost millions, it is estimated the set-up costs could total £300,000. Most of this cost would be in buying two optical scanners to help sort the different types of plastics. This is critical to the scheme because certain types of plastic are worth more than others. Leaving all the different types together results in less money being paid. Currently there are over 4500 different plastics types in circulation.

The Waste Panel fully supported this proposal with a few minor amendments. I personally think collecting these mixed plastics is a step in the right direction and has been too long in coming. I really get fed up with trying to recycle as much as possible, but then have to throw Tetra packs and other similar types of plastics into a black bag.

Lets hope the business case stacks up and this scheme starts as quickly as possible.


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