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Westminster City Council

How do you know your plastic waste is actually recycled?

As a responsible business, I’m sure you recycle what you can, sorting out paper, card, glass and plastics etc. so they can be recycled into new products, but how do you know if these materials ever make it to a recycling plant?  Just because they make it to a sorting facility doesn’t mean they are recycled.

What current issues do we face around plastic waste?

News stories about plastic and the pollution this is causing have featured heavily in the media recently, with Sir David Attenborough’s captivating Blue Planet 2 proving to be a catalyst for public awareness. Only a few days ago this article highlighted how plastic waste collected for recycling from London homes and businesses was found dumped in Malaysia, one of many similar instances around the world, especially in Asia.

Your commercial waste collector may claim they recycle large percentages of your waste but claims like this are very easy to make. Can these claims actually be substantiated and evidenced? The compliance reporting of the London sorting facilities where the mixed recycling goes to paints a very different picture. This data is publicly available on the WRAP recycling portal. The reports show the heavy contamination of recycling collected from businesses when it is sampled at sorting facilities. There is no end market for recycling low-quality materials, so where do these materials go?

How do Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services dispose of plastic waste?

As a public waste collector, Westminster City Council’s way of managing plastics is different; it is heavily scrutinised, transparent and completely auditable from start to end. The plastics we collect as part of mixed recycling are segregated at a local facility in Southwark. The separated different plastics then go to dedicated plastic recyclers. Rigid plastics go to Veolia Rainham for further sorting into different plastic grades. The sorted milk bottles are then recycled at Veolia’s Dagenham facility where they are turned into pellets for new packaging and the plastic film based plastics are recycled in mainland Europe, for example at CEDO in The Netherlands into bin liners.

Take a look at the video below, showing you how Veolia’s recycling facilities work.

What can you do to help tackle the plastic waste problem?

Step 1. The best possible solution is to generate less waste in the first place. Look around your workplace and think about changing practices to encourage reuse rather than recycling, how about using a milkman instead of buying milk in plastic bottles, buying a reusable coffee cup?

Get our '8 Quick Tips to Reducing Waste' guide

Step 2. For those items that cannot be swapped with a reusable product, can you find a similar item without plastic? For instance, many pubs and restaurants have moved from plastic straws to paper ones.  

Step 3. For the plastic that you simply can not avoid, ensure it’s an item that the sorting facility your waste goes to actually accept. Not all plastic items can be easily recycled.

sustainable waste management

Step 4. Check your current waste contractor is a responsible one, or to book a free Westminster waste consultation click below.

waste audit

If you want the assurance of knowing your hard work in separating waste isn’t going to waste, why not see how we can help. Contact us now