Lancashire could soon begin recycling hard plastic again, instead of dumping it in landfill.
County Hall chiefs have found a new market for waste items like garden and office furniture following China’s decision to ban shipments from countries like the UK.
In recent weeks hard plastics, deemed to be lower grade, have been buried with other non-recycleable waste because no-one would process them.
Designated plastics skips have been removed from household recycling centres across the county, although other products like food and drinks containers are still being reprocessed.
Now the county council says it has agreed a deal with a processing company to take some of the waste which is currently going to landfill. But the skips will not be returning, with recycling staff manually sorting through plastics to make sure it is the right quality.
Steve Scott, LCC’s head of waste management, said: “I’d like to reassure people that the plastic which they separate as part of their doorstep waste collections is being recycled. However we have temporarily removed the containers for separating hard plastics at our recycling centres as changes in the global market for recovered plastics mean we haven’t been able to recycle it recently.
“We have been working with processors over the past few weeks to establish whether they would be interested in taking some hard plastics and have been conducting a trial at two of our recycling centres.
“We have now found a processor willing to take some of this material and we’ll be starting to recycle hard plastics again in the coming weeks.
“However, the processor will only take this material if we improve its quality, which means we will have to be selective about the material we collect. This means that we’ll be introducing a further step in the process with the recycling centre staff separating the material we can and can’t recycle.
“The skips won’t be open for the public to use as this would lead to the material being too contaminated and being rejected by the processor, with the result that we would have to send it to landfill.
“We’ll be putting signs up at the sites when this is introduced to let people know what to do with items which contain hard plastics.”
Lancashire MP Graham Jones recently raised the issue of hard plastics with LCC after his local recycling centre near Accrington had stopped taking them.
He said: “I went to the tip to dispose of some plastics only to find out the skip for recycling plastic has been removed. I politely asked the staff and they said that this was because there was no demand for used plastic.
“With a greater consciousness about the importance of recycling plastic and not disposing of it in landfill (or dumped), I have to say I was quite surprised.”