Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the UK has published a new technical guide that aims to help local authorities increase plastic bottle recycling rates.

The ‘Kerbside Collection of Plastic Bottles Guide’ focuses on maximising plastic bottle material quality and capture rates from plastic bottle-only collection services.

According to the guide, collection of non-bottle rigid plastic packaging, such as plastic pots and tubs, by councils is causing feedstock problems for plastic bottle reprocessors.

WRAP noted that most UK material and plastic recovery facilities were designed for input material that is close to 40% PET, 40% HDPE and 20% other.

In reality, feedstock is including a greater proportion of non-bottle rigid plastic packaging, which is substantially altering input proportions and negatively affecting sorting and reprocessing efficiencies.

The increasing amounts of mixed plastic packaging dilute the presence of PET and HDPE bottles, resulting in significant feedstock problems for the reprocessors. These problems are then reflected in a reduction in the price local authorities receive for their plastic bottles.

When non-bottle rigid plastic packaging gets into the plastic bottle stream, the reprocessors face a number of issues.

WRAP reiterated messages from UK reprocessors that the collection of mixed plastic packaging may be contributing to the export of plastic bottles that could otherwise be sorted and reprocessed in the UK.

In a series of communications, WRAP also asks councils to focus on plastic bottle-only services.

WRAP head of collections Linda Crichton said only around 12,000t of plastic bottles were recycled in the UK in 2000 and it is now nearly 20 times that amount.

‘Maximising the capture of plastic bottles at the kerbside could be a way for local authorities to reach towards the targets to recycle 50% of household waste in England and 60% in Scotland by 2020,’ Crichton said.