One of the  main objectives of Green Ant Plastic  Recycling is to improve the quality of plastic raw materials recovered from  the various waste streams.

The main reasons for this are:-

  • better quality plastic raw materials       require less effort and expense to recycle them which means recycling       rates in the UK       for those materials should increase.
  • better quality plastic raw       materials are more valuable and profitable than their lower quality       alternatives so if small recycling company can produce higher quality       recyclate they are likely to improve the strength of their business.

Weeds and Waste

Like a weed  is only a weed when it is a plant growing in a place that it is not wanted,  waste is only waste when it is a material that is not wanted. If plastic  recycling is your livelihood then plastic waste is not waste to you, it is a valuable raw  material.

Gone are  the days when you can charge for taking away someone’s waste plastics or even  get away with removing them for free, as most people and companies realise it  has a value and expect to be paid for it and yet still too often they de-value it by mixing it with other plastics or contaminating it in other  ways.

It often  takes very little extra effort to prevent materials from being contaminated,  and so we need to start educating our suppliers rather than continuing to  accept lower quality.

The China Effect

Until recently,  rather than looking to improve quality of plastic recyclate, the  plastic recycling industry in the UK have relied heavily upon being able  to send lower value, lower quality materials to China where the manual labour  required to sort and prepare such plastics for recycling is a fraction of the  cost of that in the UK.

However, for the  last 12-18 months in particular the market in China has been changing and they  themselves have been pushing for better quality plastic raw materials to  import.

More  recently thanks to the world spotlight on China for the Beijing Olympics; China’s  record on human rights; bad press regarding UK waste sent to China for  recycling where the standards and health and safety requirement for recycling  are not as stringent as in the UK and the current economic downturn, China has  pretty much closed the doors on poor quality plastic raw material imports.

This  presents the UK  with a problem as a large part of our governments waste strategy includes the  exporting of waste to places like China.  Without this market and without the infrastructure in the UK huge  quantities of waste plastics are destined to be stockpiled or landfilled.

Why is Improving Quality  so Important

If the fact  that the biggest market in the world for plastics is insisting on higher  quality plastic raw materials for recycling is not enough then consider how  much extra profit your plastic recyclate  could make for you if it was a higher quality.

The most  common complaint about plastic recyclate is that it is contaminated with  plastics of a different type, and in our experience (depending of course on the  type and level of contamination) can disproportionately de-value those  contaminated materials.

Poor  quality could also cost you in extra transportation for rejected materials,  extra storage costs whilst you find alternative customers and damage your  reputation as a producer of quality plastic raw materials.

Working Together

As an  industry and as a nation we need to look at ways that we can improve the  quality of the plastics that go through each stage of the recycling process.  Some of these fall outside of the scope of what most small plastic recycling  companies are able to do and form part of a bigger picture for plastic recycling.

What Can We Do

There is no  magic formula that will ensure that everyone starts producing higher quality  plastic raw materials in the words of Tesco “Every Little Helps” so anything you can do is a step in the right direction. Following are just some of the things that you can  consider when looking at your business and how it can improve quality.

  • Better Identification of Different Plastic Types
  • More Effective Sorting of Plastics Prior to Processing
  • Specialisation vs Localisation
  • Quality vs Volume
  • Education of Your Supply Chain
  • Larger Production Runs (Fewer Clean Downs)
  • Choice of Packaging

Work Smarter Not Harder

Inevitably  producing higher quality plastic raw materials is going to require some effort  on your part we would strongly advocate the idea of working smarter and not  harder.

The current  market conditions mean it is very much a buyers market. Use the opportunity to push  your additional quality requirements back down your supply chain.

Put  controls in place now that will still be there when there is an upturn in the  market at which point you will be well placed to supply higher volumes of  higher quality materials to your customers and thus reap the financial benefits  without any real additional costs to your business.

Green Ant Plastic  Recycling Consultancy

For  more information about how Green Ant Plastic Recycling can help you improve the  quality of and achieve higher prices for the plastics that you recycle please  contact us 0n 01507 418111 or send us your details via our contact form.