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Hopes that Islanders could recycle more types of plastic

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PLASTIC packaging such as butter tubs, yoghurt pots or fruit punnets could be recycled by Islanders in the future but ‘safe and sustainable solutions’ need to be found first, a recycling expert has said.

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Primetime BBC documentary War on Plastic with Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall and Anita Rani, which aired on Monday night, highlighted how tonnes of plastic ‘recycling’ collected in the UK is sent to developing Asian countries.

Such is the volume of plastic waste being sent to countries such as Malaysia they are unable to deal with it and tonnes are dumped.

In Jersey, only plastic bottles, which are made from higher-grade material, can be recycled. Last year a total of 115 tonnes of plastic bottles – approximately 2.3 million – were collected in the Island for recycling but experts suggest that is just 6% of the Island’s total of this type of waste.

According to those figures, 1,801 tonnes – about 36 million bottles – are not recycled every year. That equates to about 330 bottles, which could have contained drinks or shampoo, per person in Jersey.

Emma Richardson-Calladine, recycling manager for the Growth, Housing and Environment Department, said she wanted to see the Island improve its recycling rates ‘of basic materials’ and then add to it.

But speaking about recycling other plastics, she said: ‘I am optimistic that customers will be able to recycle these in Jersey in the future but we will need to find a recycling partner that provides a safe and sustainable solution.

‘The recent media coverage has shown the environmental and social risks of recycling and it is essential that Jersey’s recycling is managed in a way that ensures an environmental benefit. We also need to ensure we are recycling the right things – the materials that generate an environmental benefit.

‘When we are looking at plastics, the next material on the priority list would be high-grade uPVC, such as window and door frames. These are currently processed for energy recovery through our Energy Recovery Facility at La Collette but recycling of this material is possible and we are looking into how we can start this.’

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Plastic bottles put in recycling bins are currently taken to Abbey Waste at Rue des Prés trading estate. They are bailed and then exported to UK firm Jayplas.

Mrs Richardson-Calladine explained that Jayplas were a ‘closed loop’ firm – so plastic bottles go in and recycled plastic comes out.

Plastic covers for crops are recycled by David Dumosch Ltd and turned into items such as plastic garden furniture.

According to Mrs Richardson-Calladine, no recycled plastics from Jersey are sent out of the UK. Light-bulbs and fluorescent tubes go to a specialist recycler in Belgium.

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Asked why other plastics are not currently recycled in Jersey, she said: ‘Mixed plastic packaging can be made from a variety of types of plastic and so are a lower grade of plastic than plastic bottles. This makes them less desirable on the plastic recycling market and so we would have to export them further afield for recycling.

‘As recent media coverage has shown, this is when things can become complicated and ensuring the traceability can be problematic, along with knowing the material is being processed safely and sustainably.

‘UK recycling plants for lower-grade plastics are generally at capacity but the industry view is that the bans on plastic imports from countries such as China will provide an opportunity for this industry to develop closer to home.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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