- By George Rebstrum
- Published 07/6/2012
Collecting and recycling plastic has become a crucial issue as it factors heavily in the UK meeting its carbon footprint targets.
The following guide will give you an overview of plastic recycling, particularly non-packaging plastics, to help businesses get firmly on the ‘Green’ track.
Uses of Recycled Plastic
Recycled plastic can be used in a wide range of applications and products to save money – there is a high demand for this material, both from UK manufacturers and international markets. In addition, exports of recovered plastics from the UK have grown in recent years to offer a tidy profit.
These are just some of the applications for recycled plastic:
· Construction – products such as damp-proof membrane, drainage pipes, ducting and flooring.
· Bin liners and refuse sacks – these useful items that everyone needs can be effectively made from recycled pallet wrap, carrier bags and agricultural film.
· Landscaping – constructions such as walkways, jetties, bridges, fences and signs are increasingly being made from recycled plastic.
· Packaging – a prime need of retailers and manufacturers.
· Street furniture – seating, bins, street signs and planters are ideal for this use.
· Textiles – polyester fibre, clothing and filling can often be made from recycled bottles.
The Importance of Quality Control in Plastic Recycling
The Environment Agency here in the UK has published a guideline for the protocols that should govern the recycling of non-packaging plastic, since this establishes end-of-waste criteria for the production of quality secondary raw materials.
Since many businesses in Britain are soon going to have to report their carbon emission levels as mandatory or face heavy fines, it is not impossible that similar guidelines for plastic recycling and use will come into play in the near future.
Standards and protocols are crucial in the plastics recycling sector since they demonstrate the quality of related processes and products to potential customers. Complying with a quality protocol also means that companies no longer need to adhere to the usual controls on waste, such as using waste transfer notes during the transport of certain materials.
The new Quality Protocol for non-packaging plastics, which was formulated as a business efficiency activity, clarifies the criteria for the manufacture of secondary raw materials derived under the category of non-packaging plastics waste.
In a nutshell, the initiative seeks to:
· Cement a Quality Protocol identifying the point at which plastic waste, having been the subject of a complete recovery operation (recycling), may become a non-waste product or material that can either be reused by businesses or supplied into other markets without the need for waste management controls.
· Produce a statement that confirms to the business community what legal obligations they must comply with to use this treated waste material.
By doing this, recycled plastics can then be used without harm to human health or the environment, thus there would be no need for waste management controls. In addition, the Quality Protocol outlines how compliance results in good practice for the use of recycled plastics to provide increased market confidence in the quality of products made from this type of waste and thereby encourage further recovery and recycling of plastic.
Quality Protocol Compliance
Secondary raw materials recycled from non-packaging plastics will no longer be regarded as waste (and therefore no longer subject to waste management controls) if they:
· Have been processed in accordance with all the requirements of the relevant European and British Standards;
· Meet any additional requirements specified by the customer;
· have been supplied to the customer for use in an identified plastics manufacturing process.
· Have been supplied to the customer with a Quality Protocol compliant Safety Data Sheet which fully explains the required information about the material.
Details Needed to Complete the Quality Protocol Safety Data Sheet
The information that your company will need to supply in order to fill out the Safety Data Sheet for Quality Protocol compliance includes your company and product data, the proposed use of the material (including recommended end-use applications), toxicological info, health and safety measures to be taken, handling and storage details, disposal considerations, transportation info and regulatory data.
To view the full Quality Protocol for Recycling Non-Packaging Plastics, visit the Environment Agency website.
Plastic recycling is becoming increasingly important to the UK manufacturing sector as well as to meeting the Government’s ‘Green’ targets. The above guide helps businesses understand how to be complaint with the Quality Protocol so that the recycling of non-packaging plastics can progress effectively.
About the Author: George Rebstrum is an independent consultant on plastic recycling.