Recycled Plastic From Chelmsford Found In
24 January 2018, 11:41
Recycled plastic from Chelmsford has been found in bales stockpiled in Hong Kong - ready to go into landfill.
Bottles and recycling from here were found still in council recycling bags.
It's as the environment secretary has admitted the UK has been 'exporting too much waste', after an investigation found thousands of tons of plastic earmarked for landfill across the world.
Heart approached Chelmsford City Council for a statement on the findings.
A spokesman for Chelmsford City Council told us: "Chelmsford City Council has always been an advocate of kerbside separated recycling collections, and has been, since the concept of recycling of household waste came to prominence in 2003. This approach is embodied in Chelmsford City Council's strategy for recycling and waste collection services, which was adopted in 2009, and is now very successfully delivered.
"The city has one of the most comprehensive kerbside collection services of materials for recycling and composting in the country. As well as the more traditional glass, paper and cans, this collection includes cardboard, all types of plastic containers and food and drink cartons, plastic film, foil, aerosols, textiles and small waste electrical items, as well as separate food waste and garden waste collections.
"The collection system that is in operation in Chelmsford is fully in accordance with the current Waste (England and Wales) Reegulations 2011, which state that separate household waste collection of the four principle materials for recycling, paper, metal, plastic and glass, should be carried out.
"The kerbside separated collections carried out by Chelmsford City Council are very effective in producing high quality materials for recycling that are free from contamination and are attractive to merchants and re-processors in the recycling sector.
"In 2011 the City Council had the foresight to recognise the potential adverse impact that discarded waste plastics could have on the environment. The City Council therefore, extended the kerbside household collection, which was limited to plastic bottles, to include all plastic food packaging, including pots, trays and film, as well as composite food and drink cartons, such as Tetrapak. This has been very successful; and allowed the City Council to remove large amounts of plastics from the general waste stream, giving the opportunity for these materials to be recycled.
"At that time, the City Council also invested over £600,000 in a new material sorting facility - specially designed to help sort plastics collected from the kerbside into different types of polymers, as well as separating steel from aluminium, in an effort to ensure the majority of these materials could go direct to recycling merchants and re-processors.
"The majority of plastics from kerbside household collections in Chelmsford are sorted and baled, at the City Council's own transfer station, into different polymer types before being sent to material merchants for onward re-processing.
"The majority of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) collected in Chelmsford is pre-sorted locally and sent to Viridor where it is cleaned, graded and flaked or pelleted at a plant in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. This material is later sent to a re-processor to be re-made into bottles and food containers.
"Other plastics are sent to a plant in Rochester, also operated by Viridor, for sorting and onward transfer to a variety of re-processors. Due to current market conditions only some of this mixed plastic will be recycled into similar products, some will be used as 'energy from waste' feedstock.
"On occasion, due to the volume of material collected from kerbside and capacity of the local sorting facility, some plastics will be sent to merchants loose and unsorted, in this case the City Council relies on the merchants own sorting processes and facilities. Generally this is Essex Reclamation who operate a similar practice for the sorting and onward transfer of plastics for re-processing.
"Essex Reclamation has informed Chelmsford City Council that the company uses Eurokey Recycling as one of the merchants that they deal with. Chelmsford City Council has no direct relationship with Eurokey, and therefore does not supply any materials directly to them, but clearly material collected at kerbside may well have been onward transferred to Eurokey by Essex Reclamation.
"Regarding the waste that was found in the yards in Hong Kong, any claims of illegal waste export with evidence that Eurokey Recycling exported the material, would be a matter for the company to take up.
"Similarly, in respect of the consignments of waste at a plant in Poland. Eurokey Recycling are a global company and it is understood that the site in Poland is one of their main operational sites, so clearly it would be more appropriate for them to comment on the operations surrounding that waste."
"Chelmsford City Council is also able to confirm that both Eurokey and Essex Reclamation are accreditated as 'Reprocessors and Exporters of Packaging Waste' from the Environment Agency.
"Chelmsford City Council is justifiably proud of the recycling and waste collection services that it offers to its residents and the investment made to ensure that these services are well used, reliable and appreciated by local residents.
"The kerbside separated collection system used in Chelmsford ensures that materials collected for recycling are of high quality and free from contamination, which in turn means that wherever possible they can be used for 'closed loop' recycling processes.
"The City Council remains confident that the approach adopted in Chelmsford has the least environmental impact and most value in preserving scarce natural resources, of all recycling practices."