Labelling some plastic waste products as ‘unrecyclable' and consigning them to landfill or energy-from-waste plants risked losing opportunities for raw material recovery, plastics recycler Axion Polymers has warned.
Axion Polymers director Keith Freegard warned this approach could stifle innovative redesign to create new recyclable packaging products and hold back development of new technology that allows existing plastic packaging materials to be captured, sorted and recycled.
He said: “I question whether we should be burning this so-called ‘unrecyclable' waste plastic.
“There's a danger that if materials which are currently not recycled, such as post-consumer multi-layer films, black trays and heavily-printed flexible packaging, find their way down the energy-from-waste route, then they get ‘locked in' to that waste disposal system for a long time due to the industry's long-term investment strategies and inflexible long-term waste supply contracts.”
Freegard added that materials currently destined for energy from waste units or landfill can be easily diverted to novel and new recovery processes where they will acquire more value and move up the waste hierarchy.
“By working together, we can make intelligent design choices that deliver circular material flows and make truly sustainable products.
“In doing so, the ‘unrecyclable' plastics will move into the ‘recyclable' category.”