Residents reassured on council waste

Northumberland County Council has moved to reassure residents over where its recyclable waste ends up once collected.

It follows the BBC’s War on Plastic programme which highlighted a range of plastic products from the UK ending up in south east Asia for processing and some of the unwanted low grade materials being illegally dumped or burned in open fires.

In Northumberland the council only targets plastic bottles in its kerbside household waste recycling service, as these containers are easily recyclable, have high value and stable end markets in the UK and Europe.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, explained: “We do not target low grade plastic packaging waste such as the plastic films, pots, tubs and trays which were featured in the BBC 'War on Plastic' programme.

“These are made of a wide range of polymers, are often contaminated with food waste and have a low value and limited end markets, particularly since China imposed import restrictions on these materials in 2018.

“It is these types of low grade mixed plastic packaging materials which are now often exported to countries in South East Asia for reprocessing.

“In Northumberland we have invested in our own sorting plant operated by our waste contractor SUEZ, where the different elements of recyclable household waste are separated out using state of the art technology and a dedicated team of staff, before being baled and sold to reprocessors.

This process even enables us to separate the plastic bottles into the different polymers, for which there is a high value and stable end markets within the UK.”

“When it comes to plastic bags, films, pots, tubs and trays, we advise residents to try and avoid buying products that have single use plastic packaging where possible.

“If they have these products then they should be disposed of in their general waste bin, the contents of which is then used as a fuel at our Energy from Waste facility in Teesside, which generates a significant amount of electricity each year for the National Grid.”
 
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