Where does my plastic recycling go? Environment, Family, Food and Drink on Environment Matters

With China recently refusing to take our waste plastic, there has been concern that all those plastic bottles and cartons that we carefully separate out in our recycling bins is just going to landfill. Not so, said Louise Palmer, Waste and Recycling Officer of St.Albans District Council on Environment Matters. In fact, the recycling industry had realised some time ago that alternative arrangements would have to be made for plastic recycling, and St.Alban’s plastic recycling is taken down to a recycling plant in Kent. Louise explained that the Council receives significant revenue for the materials, including plastic, that it sells for recycling and that landfilling is far too expensive a disposal method to be used if other methods are available.

So our plastic bottles are used to make all sorts of new items – more bottles, clothing, furniture etc. Even the lids, once discarded, are now separated out and recycled.

We continue to make great strides with our recycling in St.Albans and can feel proud that we’re now up to 26th best recyclers in the country. Up nearly 5% since 2016, last year we recycled 57.5% of our waste and a small push up to the council’s target of 60% would put us in the top 10. Louise said that to help us with this she’s arranging for more recycling bins in the town centre and other busy locations so that we can recycle whilst we’re out and about. She encouraged us to keep using our food waste caddies, which had proved very successful, and not let our enthusiasm to cut out plastics cause an increase in our food waste.

Whilst we’re great at recycling in the kitchen, Louise said that we’re not so great in the bathroom and kids bedrooms. Try popping another bin next to the waste bin in the bathroom or bedroom to avoid the option to pick through yucky mixed waste or brown bin the whole lot.

Herts County Council is currently consulting on its waste strategy, and Louise explained that whilst the possibility of an incinerator at New Barnfield in Hatfield has gone, an incinerator somewhere in the county is still very much on the table. She felt that this was necessary to dispose of the residual waste from the steeply increasing population of Hertfordshire, and she was reassured that it would not affect our top 10 recycling ambitions.