JUNE 2009

Recyclers set for economic boost with release of plastics quality protocol

A new Quality Protocol published by the Waste Protocols Project, a joint Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Environment Agency initiative, will simplify the recovery of waste non-packaging plastic – such as plastic pipes, toys and garden furniture - and make it easier for manufacturers to incorporate the material into new products.

Compliance with the Quality Protocol, which applies in England and Wales, will give plastics recyclers the opportunity to assure the quality and consistency of the materials they produce. This will help them take advantage of a range of business and environmental benefits, including potentially lower energy costs, increased revenue and significant reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide created through production processes.

Plastic converters or manufacturers who buy Quality Protocol compliant material may also benefit from a reduction in their material costs, and they will have the assurance that they are purchasing a fit-for-purpose, consistent and reliable non-waste product.

Produced in consultation with key stakeholders from the plastics industry, this new protocol works by establishing end-of-waste criteria for the production of secondary raw materials from waste non-packaging plastics. Crucially, recyclers and processors who comply with the protocol will be able to recover waste non-packaging plastic at an early point in the supply chain. When it has been converted into chips or flakes, for example, the material will no longer be subject to waste management controls.

Marcus Gover, director of market development at WRAP, said, “This Quality Protocol will help industry recycle more of the estimated 1.4 million tons of non-packaging plastics waste generated in the United Kingdom every year. At present, around 160,000 tons of this material is recycled annually – so there is significant scope for increasing the recovery rates. It is now significantly easier for the recycling and manufacturing sectors to turn waste non-packaging plastics into valuable and useful products. The project is about improving business and resource efficiency, reducing waste to landfill and helping to tackle climate change.”