Recycle plastic bags and support pioneering new project
Exeter residents are being encouraged to recycle their good quality plastic bags and wrap as part of a UK first project to turn the items into litter bin sacks.
The move to get more of the soft plastics in green recycling bins is part of a campaign fronted by Exeter City Council’s recycling expert, Denis the Dustcart.
Waste Analysis conducted in Exeter in October last year identified high levels of plastic film in the city’s black bins that could have been recycled instead.
Denis has put together a new web page dedicated to soft plastic recycling and will be updating his popular Facebook page with information throughout Recycling week, which begins on Monday 16 October.
Exeter is the first council in the UK to get plastic bags collected from the kerbside recycled into litter bin sacks, having partnered with UK plastic recycling company Jayplas.
The ‘closed loop’ project sees waste polythene bags collected from households across the city sent to Jayplas’s film sorting plant in Smethwick.
Once there, it is sorted into polymer type and colour before being turned into granules ready for recycling into plastic litter sacks, which are sent back to Exeter.
While salad bags, pouches, crisp packets and other scrunchy plastics can’t go in the green bin, good-quality plastic bags and wrap such as bread bags, bags-for-life and wrap for cans can be recycled from home in Exeter because of the Council’s UK-first arrangement with Jayplas.
Cllr Ruth Williams, Lead Councillor with responsibility for Recycling, said putting quality plastic film in the green bin will not only help the environment but also save the Council money that can then be used to support local services. Recycling the plastics also saves on carbon emissions as plastic is diverted from incineration at the energy from waste plant.
She said: “Quality is the name of the game when it comes to recycling. Here in Exeter we want the material we sort to be recycled into quality items again and we are always looking for ways to turn problem plastics into truly useful products through dynamic and ground-breaking partnerships. We’re the first council in the UK to do what we do with plastic bags and it’s something we’re really proud of!”
Jayplas’ Smethwick plant has been operational since October 2019 and is intended to reduce reliance on plastic exports.
The company is a member of the Plastic Pact and engages with waste producers in supporting the UK circular economy. With export markets becoming more problematic, it’s vital that forward-thinking local authorities, producers and recycling companies come together to develop UK-based solutions for plastic waste.
Cllr Williams added: “I would encourage everyone to get behind Denis’s campaign. If you live in Exeter, there are a few easy tests you can do to check whether you should use your green bin for your plastic film or take it to your local supermarket. If it’s silvery, like pet food pouches and crisp packets, take it to your supermarket. If it springs back open when you scrunch it in your hand, take it to your supermarket. If it’s soft and has a little bit of stretch to it, like a bread bag or a polythene apple bag, pop it in your green bin.
“We don’t want cling film, though. And remember: compostable and biodegradable plastics aren’t recyclable either from home or at a supermarket.”
Information on what plastics can be recycled will be available on the City Council’s recycling pages at https://www.exeter.gov.uk/recycling/ from Monday 16 October.
Exeter residents can stay up-to-date with recycling and waste news and advice by following Denis the Dustcart’s Facebook page.