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Recycling advice at the bring banks

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Wednesday 23 January 2013

Public Services will be out and about this weekend to give recycling advice at a number of the island's bring bank sites.

Staff will be at four of the busiest sites on either Saturday or Sunday, to answer questions and give out leaflets on plastic recycling explaining a change to the system last month.

Previously, islanders had to identify whether an item could be recycled by looking for a symbol indicating the type of plastic it was. Only packaging marked with a 1, 2, 5 or 6 was supposed to go in the bring banks, but numbers were often too small to read, or missing completely

The system is now much simpler. Recyclers no longer have to look for symbols, and almost any household plastic packaging is accepted.

The few exceptions include any black plastic or thin films, such as the seals on food containers, polythene, coal sacks and carrier bags. These cannot be recycled by processors, and are therefore classed as contamination.

The changeover to the new arrangements for plastics bring banks, in December, was accompanied by new signage at the main sites, and announcements in the media. Since then there has been a reduction in the amount of black packaging collected.

Around 300 tonnes of plastic packaging were collected through the bring banks in 2012 - a 20% increase on the previous year. It is estimated around 5% of this was black.

Public Services Deputy Minister, Deputy Scott Ogier, said simplifying the system aimed to reduce contamination and increase the amount collected. The start had been encouraging.

'We want to capture as much recyclable plastic as possible, and to do that we must ensure there is a sustainable market for any material we collect. If it's too contaminated with items that reprocessors don't want, then at best it will cost us more. The worst case scenario is it gets rejected and none of it will be recycled,' he said.

'So far, the signs are encouraging. A lot of islanders are getting used to the new system, particularly in terms of black plastic, which sadly there is currently no market for. We hope to explain it more to people this weekend, which we hope will also cut down other contamination.'

Black packaging is commonly used in food packaging, and is preferred by retailers because it enhances the appearance of the contents. Public Services recycling officer Tina Norman-Ross said retailers were working with the reprocessing industry to address the issue.

'We hope in the future to be able to include black plastic, but for the time being we are asking islanders to keep it out. We also ask them to use the Longue Hougue facility for other rigid plastic items and expanded polystyrene, which are the other main sources of contamination.'

Plastic items that are not packaging, such as garden furniture or toys, should not be put in bring banks but can be taken to the Longue Hougue recycling facility.

Separate bins are also provided at Longue Hougue, Chouet, and Waitrose for what is commonly known as polystyrene. This often comes with toys and other household goods, and should not be put in plastics bring banks.

This weekend's schedule:-
Further information

Black plastic is not recyclable - even if marked with a symbol - because there is no market for the material and processors therefore have to pay to dispose of it. Detectors used to identify different types of plastic also do not recognise anything black, so it can impact on other material. Coloured or clear items passing the sensors under black packaging are rejected as well, and although recyclable end up in landfill or used for energy from waste.

· Thin plastic film, such as the transparent material used to seal ready meals, is often degradable and therefore unsuitable for recycling. It can also get tangled in automated sorting system, causing mechanical breakdowns, therefore processors are keen to avoid it.

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