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Recycling January 23 2014 Weekly &WASTE In this issue: WORLD For the latest news and in-depth features, visit

Plastic bag row gathers pace

David Burrows Freelance writer

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Whether it's plastic films that need shredding or packaging materials which require baling, check out our selection of shredding and baling specialists.

• Page 4

THE UK'S recycling industry needs to “stop working on hunches” and “be a bit more opened-minded” about the use of oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, according to an industry insider.

Sector's changing role: What does 2014 hold?

As far as the waste sector is concerned, 2013 didn't end on a high. Does this make for a tougher 2014? We ask the experts for their views.

• Page 6

Waste gasification and direct melting technology

The direct melting system is a shaft-furnace gasification and melting process that doesn't need pre-treatment of municipal solid waste.

• Page 8

Scientific, social and political scrutiny reached new heights in recent weeks, with Europe-wide plans to cut plastic bag use by 80% and proposals by MEPs to ban “certain plastic bags by 2020”, including oxo- biodegradable varieties (See news item on page 3). Recyclers in the UK - where the use of oxo- biodegradable bags has taken on particular importance following the government’s decision to exempt certain biodegradable bags from next year’s 5p tax - are concerned the plastics stream could be contaminated by biodegradable bags. Research published late last year by European Plastic Converters (EuPC) suggested that small amounts of degradable plastic films cause “significant, detrimental impacts on the quality of plastic recyclates”. However, John James, export manager at Wells Plastics, criticised “the recycling sector's parochial view of plastic bag recycling” and urged it to work with oxo-biodegradable manufacturers on some “real analysis” into whether the bags can be recycled. “The research we have done with experts shows they shouldn't have any fear [about accepting oxo-biodegradable] materials,” he said. “If this is a concern, let’s jointly put together a project and look

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at it. Instead of working on hunches let’s do some proper scientific analysis.” James said what’s needed is a clear “yes” or “no” in relation to the recycling of oxo-biodegradable plastics. He said he understood why recyclers might have fears, but wanted them to be more “open-minded”.

James dismissed proposals from a group in the French National Assembly to temporarily ban oxo- biodegradable bags on health and environmental grounds as “ridiculous”.

The MPs claimed that unlike biodegradable plastics, oxo-biodegradable plastics fragment and disintegrate into fine particles of plastic, without degrading into water, carbon dioxide and organic matter.

The Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association claimed it was a “skilful lobbying attempt”. “Oxo- biodegradable plastic does not just fragment, but will be consumed by bacteria and fungi after oxidative cleavage has reduced the molecular structure to a level which permits living micro-organisms access to the carbon and hydrogen. It is therefore ‘biodegradable’.”

The association also

warned any such law change would contravene Article 18 of the EU Packaging Waste Directive.

The packaging directive was originally adopted in order to prevent or reduce the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment. The European Commission wants to change it to specifically address carrier bags given the “enormous environmental damage” they cause. If the changes are approved, article 4 (prevention) of the directive will require member states to “take measures to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags” and provide usage data. The plans to exempt certain biodegradable bags from England’s new 5p tax coincided with a new £10.7m facility to recycle plastic bags and films. The site, run by PlasRecycle, is reportedly the first of its kind in the UK. Duncan Grierson, its chief executive, said the exemption plans would be “a disaster”. “There is no way of efficiently removing these types of bags from the plastics waste stream and this contamination will render the recycled plastic worthless.”

King's Lynn under starters orders

WORK ON King’s Lynn and West Norfolk’s residual waste recycling contract’s detailed planning application can now start following the announcement that £100m of funding for the project has been secured.

The planning application is expected to be lodged with Norfolk County Council within the next two to three months.

The new plant, which will be owned and operated by Chester-based Material Works, is anticipated to initially process around 30,000 tonnes of residual waste and 5,000 tonnes of food waste per year. This is expected to be collected within the borough of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, as well as a further 35,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste; turning the latter into a range of construction products and other materials.

Material Works signed a 16-year contract with the borough council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk in December 2012. The company’s managing

director, Robert Billson, said: “All the funding from major investors is in place and a highly suitable location has been identified where we are taking an option, subject to a successful planning application."

The design of the plant and associated management systems is reported to fall within the government’s agreed strategy for the management of waste and material recovery. “We will be announcing the location of the site as soon as the option agreement is signed,” added a Material Works spokesperson. Subject to planning, the company said it hopes to start work early in the Summer.

E Sussex to consider three waste sites

THREE CLOSURE-THREATENED waste sites in East Sussex could remain open under plans being considered by senior councillors. East Sussex County Council had proposed closing household waste recycling centres in Forest Row, Seaford and Wadhurst as the authority faces a reduction in funding of around £70m over the next three years. However, after gaining further evidence of local demand for services following a consultation on the issue, the council’s cabinet will now consider other options at its meeting on Tuesday, January 28. If the plans are approved, the authority said it would look

at alternative ways of achieving the remaining savings which would be required from its waste management budget.


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