Collection day for plastic waste as inquiry launches

A new inquiry into plastic waste management in the UK has been launched. The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) aims to assess the extent of the damage being done to the […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A new inquiry into plastic waste management in the UK has been launched.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) aims to assess the extent of the damage being done to the environment by disposable drinks packaging, particularly focusing upon the impact of plastic bottles and coffee cups.

It will then try to work out how to avoid this damage in the future.

British household recycling is flat lining at around 44%, well short of the government target to increase plastic packaging recycling rates to 57% by the end of 2017 – some researchers fear by 2050, plastic in the oceans could outweigh fish species.

Only around half of the 35 million plastic bottles sold every day are currently collected for recycling.

Cardboard coffee cups are even worse – only one in 400 of the seven million thrown away daily are recycled, leaving more than 6.98 million going to landfill or littering the environment.

To make coffee cups waterproof the card is infused with polyethylene, which can’t be separated out again in standard UK recycling centres.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the EAC, said: “We all enjoy a take away coffee or tea but the cups they are served in are particularly difficult to recycle because they combine plastic coating and cardboard.

“Our inquiry will be taking a serious look at solutions like the use of different materials, better recycling and bottle deposit return schemes.”

England has slashed plastic bag use by introducing a 5p charge.

EU waste rules could cost Britain as much as £2 billion over the next 20 years.