Residents in Leeds will now be able to recycle pots, tubs and trays (PTT) and cartons via their kerbside collections.
Leeds city council announced last week that it will expand the range of plastics it accepts – all ‘number 5’ polypropylene plastics will be permitted in household recycling, except those which are black or brown.
Leeds have assured residents that the plastics will be recycled, primarily in the UK, but said it may “at times be sent to Germany”. A spokesperson confirmed to letsrecycle.com that “this depends on various factors and could change any month”.
On Twitter, the council’s Leeds Recycles account told a member of the public that all ‘type five’ plastic reprocessors it currently has relationships with are in the UK or Germany.
The council explained that PTT plastic is “mainly recycled into plastic imitation wood products”, though the spokesperson added that HW Martins have expressed an interest in reprocessing the material into a flaked product at their Alfreton plant. “This would be similar to the process which Leeds’ HDPE undergoes”.
Whilst a large number of local authorities do accept the materials for recycling, some maintain that there is still not a market to sell the plastic on to.
In August, West Berkshire residents sent a petition to their council asking for it to accept PTT. Currently the council says it only collects plastic bottles for recycling as there is not enough demand from reprocessors for PTT and so they cannot guarantee they will be recycled, even if they are collected for recycling (see letsrecycle.com story).
In May plastic charity Recoup raised concerns that due to lack of demand from reprocessors for some grades of PTT the material was being sent for incineration as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).
According to Recoup, 52% of councils surveyed said that they had experienced difficulties with plastics markets in recent months – particularly in light of a lack of demand for material from the Far East, which had previously been a large market for mixed plastic items from the UK.