Household and business recycling collection consultation provides food for thought

As part of its Resources and Waste Strategy for England, Defra has set out its proposals for all local authorities in England to collect the same core set of dry recyclable and to provide separate weekly food waste collections from households. The consultation also explores whether local authorities should provide a free garden waste collection service for households with gardens. These plans are outlined in its document, ‘Consultation on Consistency in Household and Business Recycling Collections in England,’ which is open for feedback until 13 May. 

On the business side, the consultation includes proposals for those businesses which produce municipal waste, to segregate dry recyclable materials from residual waste so that these can be collected for recycling. Plans also recommend these businesses separate their food waste for collection and recycling or composting.

All Welsh Councils already offer separate food waste collections to help consumers recycle more. Scotland has also made a significant investment in household food waste collections in recent years. According to data from Zero Waste Scotland, over 1.5 million households (as of September 2015) have access to a collection. It has also taken steps on the business side, where regulation is in place that requires non-rural businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week to segregate the material separately for collection (under 2016 updates to the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012).

Compostable bags play a key role in the effectiveness of collection of food and garden materials, helping to remove potential barriers to participation in these recycling schemes. Benefits of the bags include ease of distribution and collection, and hygienic storage for households and businesses, whilst keeping odours to a minimum. The bags help keep the process of emptying caddies or bins as straightforward as possible, without the need to wash the food caddy or wheeled bin.

Effective recycling strategies

We offer a range of compostable bags to support local authority and commercial recycling strategies. Our bags are made from Ecopond® biodegradable resin – for which Cromwell Polythene is the sole distributor among local authorities and the recycling and waste management sector in the UK.

Available in a wide range of sizes, the biodegradable bags for the collection of kitchen and garden waste are manufactured from starch and lactide acid-based derivatives of plant sources. They meet the stringent criteria of the European composting standard, EN13432, which requires more than 90% of the plastic mass to be converted into biomass, CO2 and water, without harmful residue. Ecopond® compostable bags fully decompose within six weeks in a compost environment.

A ‘more bags please’ re-order tag can be incorporated in each roll of liners to enable re-ordering. To request more liners, the householder attaches the re-order tag to the bin handle.

We also offer a comprehensive selection of fit for purpose AD-friendly bags. The liners can be conveniently removed with debagging equipment at the front end of AD plants. They are lightweight and fit a range of standard kitchen caddies and kerbside bins and come in a choice of straight top or vest style tie handle.

The right tools and materials for the right recycling application

Compostable bags are ideal for food and garden waste, where they compost alongside this material for future use. However, they should only be used for the recycling application they are designed for. If compostable packaging is put in with waste for disposal in landfill, as with any other organic matter in landfill, as it degrades it will give off methane. Additionally, if compostable packaging is put into the recycling stream, it can contaminate all the other materials, meaning that the whole batch cannot be recycled. So it would not be appropriate for compostable bags to be used for the collection of other materials for recycling. They are designed to decompose in a compost environment.

In addition, oxo-degradable bags are sometimes described as biodegradable, which is not the case and they are certainly not compostable. In fact, some countries do not allow the term biodegradable if a product is not compostable. In the context of it European plastics strategy, the EU has started a process to restrict the use of oxo-plastics. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority recently determined the use of the term biodegradable ”is misleading and has not been substantiated”, when used to described an oxo-degradable product.

A sustainable future

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and we offer a comprehensive range of products to ensure resources are    re-used or recycled. For example, we also offer polythene food grade bags to aid portion control and storage of food to avoid spoilage in the first instance. We also offer grip seal bags which are re-sealable, re-usable, and recyclable.

Our wide range of refuse sacks, made from recycled polythene, come in black, clear and a range of colours to aid the segregation of waste materials. This includes our popular LowCO2t™ range, which are designed to provide maximum performance using minimal resources.

Next month we’ll be showcasing our extensive portfolio at Edie Live, which has the theme of ‘Turning Ambition into Action,’ by inspiring businesses to increase efforts across all areas of sustainable development. You can find out more about what we offer by visiting us on Stand B46 or by getting in touch with the team.