In an innovative public-private partnership, Anthesis LRS is leading a project to assess the feasibility of including flexible laminated packaging, such as food and drink pouches, pet food pouches and toothpaste tubes, in existing household recycling schemes and recovering the aluminium from this packaging.
Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Action Based Research programme, following a scoping exercise in 2014, Anthesis LRS is managing and coordinating trials, with cross-sector collaboration from Nestlé UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola Enterprises. Having commenced on 16 February, the nine month trials are being supported by Bracknell Forest Council, Calderdale Council and the London Borough of Hounslow. The collections and initial sorting are being managed by SUEZ environnement, and technology developers Enval will recycle the material at their demonstration facility at the Alconbury Enterprise Zone, near Huntingdon.
Dee Moloney, Director at Anthesis LRS, said: “Flexible laminated packaging, such as food and drink pet food pouches, is becoming increasingly widespread and the global market is anticipated to continue to grow year on year. Therefore, if these trials prove that viable collection, sorting and recycling schemes can be implemented, it will support the increased flow of materials into the secondary markets, establishing another step towards a more circular economy in the UK.”
Different methods of engaging with residents and collecting the material at the kerbside are being tested and the results of the trials will help determine best practice to increase the amount of flexible laminated packaging collected and recycled in England. They will also provide insight into how different communications approaches, consumer behaviour and brands influence collection models across different demographics and locations in London, Berkshire and Yorkshire.
Stuart Hayward-Higham, Technical Development Director at the UK recycling and waste recovery division of SUEZ environnement, said: “The outcomes of the trials will enable project partners and other industry stakeholders to evaluate the potential to include flexible laminated packaging in mainstream recycling collections in the UK, which SUEZ environnement is keen to explore.”
Enval’s technology will be used to treat the packaging collected, separating the plastic and aluminium.
Dr Carlos Ludlow-Palafox, Managing Director, Enval, said: “These trials are providing an important opportunity to prove that we can successfully capture and recycle the valuable aluminium, as well as recover the plastics as a fuel oil product. This will present a solid business case for Enval’s microwave-induced pyrolysis technology to be bolted on to existing materials facilities and help increase levels of recycling across the UK.”
Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Defra is pleased to support this project, which is part of the government’s wider approach to enabling businesses to be more sustainable. I look forward to seeing the results of these innovative studies which could lead to us extracting more value from our resources, saving energy and supporting further growth in the UK’s recycling and remanufacturing industries. Together this will build a fairer society and stronger economy.”