Cory, which runs an operational energy from waste (EfW) plant in Belvedere, south east London, has called on the government to take “immediate action” and create correct conditions for plastics recycling in the UK.
This comes after the company commissioned in-depth composition analysis of the residual waste it receives and processes on behalf of Western Riverside Waste Authority (WRWA). This includes Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth and Wandsworth.
According to Cory, the results of the study identified that while plastics represent only 16% of the residual waste by weight, they contribute 65% of the fossil carbon emissions. Moreover, plastic film makes the top ten by weight in terms of processed materials despite being light, the company revealed.
Only a small proportion of plastic film is said to be recycled due to the challenges associated with collection, sorting and recycling. While some bigger supermarkets already collect it, Cory called for its recycling to be more commonplace. This includes government-proposed collection at kerbside, with the costs paid for by producers.
The company also called for a reduction in production and consumption of another problematic material, expanded polystyrene, which represents an “unacceptably large proportion of the residual waste stream”.
Cory suggested that schemes such as the UK government’s proposed extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime “should aim to disincentivise the use of it altogether”.
It also pointed to the need to increase recycling of rigid plastic items such as toys and household items. These are accepted at the company’s Western Riverside facility in Wandsworth and at Cringle Dock, which are then sent to a plastics re-processor in the UK.
Helen Murphy, Cory’s head of sustainability, said: “As consumers, we can all play our part in adopting more conscientious consumption habits and sorting our waste and recycling responsibly. However, we also require systemic change implemented by Government and business to stop the destruction of precious resources, to ensure that more plastic is recycled in the UK, and to make the economy circular.”
Dougie Sutherland, Cory’s CEO, added: “Capturing the plastics is key and UK Government policies that are intended to do this – consistent collections, the deposit return scheme, and EPR – will be crucial. We were disappointed to learn that EPR will not include business waste and the introduction of the scheme has been delayed by at least a year.”