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The European Commission (EC) recently introduced a 'Circular Economy Package', setting ambitious recycling targets and identifying waste plastics as a priority sector where major improvements are necessary. Here, the authors explain how different collection modalities affect the quantity and quality of recycling, using recent empirical data on household (HH) post-consumer plastic packaging waste (PCPP) collected for recycling in the devolved administration of England over the quarterly period July-September 2014. Three main collection schemes, as currently implemented in England, were taken into account: (i) kerbside collection (KS), (ii) household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) (also known as 'civic amenity sites'), and (iii) bring sites/banks (BSs). The results indicated that: (a) the contribution of KS collection scheme in recovering packaging plastics is higher than HWRCs and BBs, with respective percentages by weight (wt %) 90%, 9% and 1%; (b) alternate weekly collection (AWC) of plastic recyclables in wheeled bins, when collected commingled, demonstrated higher yield in KS collection; (c) only a small percentage (16%) of the total amount of post-consumer plastics collected in the examined period (141 kt) was finally sent to reprocessors (22 kt); (c) nearly a third of Local Authorities (LAs) reported insufficient or poor data; and (d) the most abundant fractions of plastics that finally reached the reprocessors were mixed plastic bottles and mixed plastics.
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Post-consumer plastic packaging waste in England: Assessing the yield
of multiple collection-recycling schemes
John N. Hahladakis
, Phil Purnell, Eleni Iacovidou, Costas A. Velis
, Maryann Atseyinku
School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9JT Leeds, United Kingdom
article info
Article history:
Received 8 July 2017
Revised 22 January 2018
Accepted 6 February 2018
Available online 10 February 2018
Circular economy
Household waste
Local authorities
Plastic packaging
Waste collection schemes
The European Commission (EC) recently introduced a ‘Circular Economy Package’, setting ambitious recy-
cling targets and identifying waste plastics as a priority sector where major improvements are necessary.
Here, the authors explain how different collection modalities affect the quantity and quality of recycling,
using recent empirical data on household (HH) post-consumer plastic packaging waste (PCPP) collected
for recycling in the devolved administration of England over the quarterly period July-September 2014.
Three main collection schemes, as currently implemented in England, were taken into account: (i) kerb-
side collection (KS), (ii) household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) (also known as ‘civic amenity sites’),
and (iii) bring sites/banks (BSs). The results indicated that: (a) the contribution of KS collection scheme in
recovering packaging plastics is higher than HWRCs and BBs, with respective percentages by weight (wt
%) 90%, 9% and 1%; (b) alternate weekly collection (AWC) of plastic recyclables in wheeled bins, when col-
lected commingled, demonstrated higher yield in KS collection; (c) only a small percentage (16%) of the
total amount of post-consumer plastics collected in the examined period (141 kt) was finally sent to
reprocessors (22 kt); (c) nearly a third of Local Authorities (LAs) reported insufficient or poor data; and
(d) the most abundant fractions of plastics that finally reached the reprocessors were mixed plastic bot-
tles and mixed plastics.
Crown Copyright Ó2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
1. Introduction
Since the Packaging and Packaging Waste (PPW) Directive came
into force (Directive 94/62/EC), European Union (EU) member
states have made major investments in their recycling systems,
e.g. collection schemes, sorting and reprocessing equipment and
infrastructure. However, although the recovery and recycling tar-
gets set in the PPW Directive are similar for all member states,
the operational strategies for achieving them vary considerably
from country to country (da Cruz et al., 2014a, 2014b; European
Commission, 2006; Marques et al., 2014). According to the
extended producer responsibility (EPR) principle (an overriding
principle of the PPW Directive), all economic operators placing
packaging on the market are responsible for its management and
recovery (OECD, 2001). Producers of packaging waste can transfer
this responsibility to another entity (e.g. a Green Dot company)
and by paying a financial contribution earn the right to put a
‘‘Green Dot’’ trademark on their packaging.
The PPW Directive and associated recycling targets updated in
2004 (European Commission, 2004), to encourage packaging
re-use and recycling, do not stray from the original objectives. In
particular, the Directive specifies essential requirements for the
design, production, and commercialization of packaging that
enable their reuse, recovery and recycling, minimizing their impact
on the environment.
0956-053X/Crown Copyright Ó2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Abbreviations: approx, Approximately; AWC, Alternated weekly collection; BSs,
Bring sites; C&I, Commercial & industrial; ca., Circa (Latin term for ‘‘approximately”
or ‘‘about”); Coll, Collected; Cx, Commingled with a separate stream of glass (g),
fiber/paper (q), plastic (p) within the commingled; Cxx, Commingled with two
separate streams within the commingled; DEFRA, Department for environment,
food and rural affairs; EC, European Commission; EfW, Energy from waste; EPR,
Extended producer responsibility; EU, European Union; FCM, Food contact mate-
rials; HDPE, High-density polyethylene; HH, Household; HWRC, Household waste
recycling centres; KS, Kerbside; KSS, Kerbside sort; kt, Kilotonnes; LAs, Local
authorities; MBT, Mechanical-biological treatment; MC, Multi-commingled (more
than three streams within the commingled); MRFs, Material recovery facilities;
NPP, Nuclear power plant; PCPP, Post-consumer plastic packaging; PET, Poly-
ethylene terephthalate; PO, Polyolefins; PPW, Packaging and packaging waste
directive; PRFs, Plastic recovery facilities; PTTs, Pots, tubs and trays; RCV, Refuse
collection vehicle; RECOUP, Recycling of used plastics (Limited); UK, United
Kingdom; WCAs, Waste collection authorities; WDAs, Waste disposal authorities;
WDF, Waste data flow; WFD, Waste framework directive; WRAP, Waste and
resources action programme; wt%, percentage by weight.
Corresponding authors.
E-mail addresses: (J.N. Hahladakis),
(C.A. Velis).
Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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Furthermore, the EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC
(WFD) requires member states to apply the EU Waste Hierarchy
and achieve two recycling and recovery targets by 2020: (a) reuse
and recycle at least 50% of household (HH) waste and (b) prepare
for reuse, recycling and other recovery at least 70% of construction
and demolition waste (European Commission, 2008; Gharfalkar
et al., 2015; Waite et al., 2015).
The recycling of plastic packaging waste is regarded to be an
important prerequisite for its diversion from landfill and the bio-
sphere, and the generation of a recognizable high-quality sec-
ondary material (PlasticEurope, 2012). Although, there is a
general agreement that the ‘clean’ fractions of plastic polymers
should be recycled, there is still debate on how to properly manage
the mixed and/or contaminated (‘‘dirty”) waste plastics found in
waste (Astrup et al., 2009; Lazarevic et al., 2010; Rigamonti et al.,
2014). To achieve mono-material flows of secondary raw material
from post-consumer plastic packaging (PCPP) waste, such fractions
need to be sorted out of the HH waste (Groot et al., 2014). Match-
ing the large variety of materials and substances that constitute
PCPP (and the impurities it may contain) with the correct combina-
tion of available sorting and processing technologies to deal with
them, render its effective recycling complex and challenging (Feil
et al., 2017; Thoden van Velzen et al., 2013; Thoden van Velzen
et al., 2016; Velis and Brunner, 2013; WRAP, 2013).
Recognising the need for high quality recycling as an effort to
increase circularity and recovery of resources from waste, the pre-
sent work focuses on the various collection schemes that are
implemented in England, and in particular how current practices
affect the recovery of PCPP waste (Feil et al., 2017; Ragossnig and
Schneider, 2017; Velis, 2015).
The aims of the present study are: (a) to analyse the collection
performance of the different schemes adopted by the waste collec-
tion authorities (WCAs) (mostly known as local authorities (LAs))
that operate in England, with specific focus on PCPP waste; (b) to
compare the quantities of PCPP recovered from the various collec-
tion schemes and examine the proportion that reach material
recovery facilities (MRFs) and reprocessors (plastic recovery facili-
ties, PRFs) and (c) determine the final quantity and most abundant
types of plastics that are, in fact, recycled, as a function of the col-
lection scheme implemented.
2. Background on UK recycling collection schemes
Three main collection schemes, currently in use in the UK, are:
(a) kerbside collection (KS), (b) household waste recycling centres
or civic amenity sites (HWRCs) and (c) bring sites/banks (BSs). A
detailed description of the collection schemes is presented below.
2.1. KS collection
KS collection involves LAs, paid contractors or permitted private
business/charity collecting waste intended for recycling directly
from HHs. Recently, there has been a degree of convergence in
the detailed practical operations (e.g. how waste is sorted by the
householder and the frequency with which it is collected). This
can be mainly attributed to the government-funded Waste and
Resources Action Programme (WRAP) creating performance
benchmarks and guides for LAs (Defra, 2013). Jenkins et al.
(2003) reported that LAs doubled their collection rate (by weight)
with the introduction of KS collection as opposed to relying on
householders to take recyclable materials to a specified collection
point (Jenkins et al., 2003). It is also reported that the degree of
effective source separation is a critical factor in achieving targets
such as ‘‘50% recycling of HH waste by 2020” (Cole et al., 2014).
It is noteworthy that the majority of English LAs operate separate
collections of recyclables and residual waste (the fraction of waste
that cannot be recycled) (WRAP, 2009a, b).
There are three broad subsets of this type of collection, as
KS sort (KSS), where the collection of dry recyclables takes place
in containers (mostly boxes, bags or sacks) which is then hand
sorted by collection operatives into a refuse collection vehicle
(RCV) that has multiple compartments for the various collected
KS single stream commingled or fully commingled (C), where
the collection of all dry recyclables occurs together in one con-
tainer and then transferred into a standard RCV with only one
compartment. In turn, there is subsequent sorting at a MRF
and in some cases there is an intermediate stop at a transfer/
bulking station. After sorting, the final destination is the repro-
cessors, though part of the stream can be converted to energy,
depending on the quality (Cimpan et al., 2015).
KS dual or three (multi) stream commingled (Cx, Cxx, MC),
where the collection of commingled materials takes place in
one stream, while a separate stream is used for one or more
other dry recyclates (Cimpan et al., 2015). Usually, two contain-
ers with two compartments in the RCV are used to maintain
separation (split body RCV). The commingled stream is then
sent to a MRF for sorting.
More details on the various collection modes (abbreviations
also defined) that operate under the KS collection scheme are also
shown in Table 1.
2.2. HWRCs
HWRCs serve as an alternative and/or support to KS collection.
They are large facilities that usually reside within a community to
which householders can take their waste. Items that are too costly
for LAs to collect routinely via KS are often received at the HWRCs.
These include building waste, green (garden) waste and even dry
recyclables not collected via KS owing to omissions by household-
ers or contractors.
Limited relevant literature is available regarding the collection
rate performance of HWRCs. Parfitt et al. (2001) assessed the
effects of container use on refuse and recycling collection in rural
and urban classified areas in the UK and suggested that the contri-
bution of HWRCs to collection was 16%, and was mostly attributed
to green waste (Parfitt et al., 2001). Other studies on recycling via
HWRCs focused on the collection of bulky waste, optimisation of
parameters involved in this kind of collection scheme, or the
Table 1
Code description for the various collection streams that operate under the KS
collection scheme.
Symbol Terminology Description
C Commingled (Single stream)
g Separate Glass
Separate Glass Stream, within the commingled
dual or 3 stream collection scheme
p Separate Plastic
Separate Plastic Stream, within the commingled
dual or 3 stream collection scheme
q Separate Paper/
Fiber Stream
Separate Paper/Fiber Stream, within the
commingled dual or 3 stream collection scheme
MC Multi Stream
Either 2 or more commingled collection
separated according to fiber and containers or
KSS Kerbside Sort Collection of dry recyclables in containers
(mostly boxes, bags or sacks) with further hand
sorting into a RCV with multiple compartments
for the various collected materials
150 J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159
responsiveness of the staff on site and how this affects collection/
drop-offs (Curran et al., 2007; Maynard et al., 2009; Williams and
Taylor, 2004; Woodard et al., 2004). Detailed data on the relevant
legislation, up to date statistics on HWRCs provision and evidence-
based approaches to assessing and improving their performance
can be found in the relevant WRAP reports (WRAP, 2012, 2014a).
2.3. BSs
BSs are smaller, strategically located in target areas with high
foot traffic like supermarkets or leisure facilities, where the public
can place recyclables in an effortless manner. These sites collect
recyclable materials such as cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, plas-
tic carrier bags etc. They can be commingled, but the amendment on
collection set by the WFD restricts it (European Commission, 2008).
As with HWRCs, limited literature is available on BSs, regarding
particular amounts on the breakdown of their contributions or
quantifying any rejections due to contamination. Again, WRAP
annual reports are the most relevant data source (WRAP, 2009a,
b, 2014b, 2015a).
2.4. Frequency of collection
Another factor that critically affects the amount of PCPP waste
collected is the frequency of collection. Most LAs that operate in
England use alternate weekly collection (AWC) across all schemes
(also known as ‘fortnightly collection’). Residual waste destined for
landfill or energy from waste (EfW) plants or mechanical-
biological treatment (MBT) plants, is collected on the one week
and dry recyclables the week after (European Parliament, 2013;
Parfitt and Bridgewater, 2011). However, some LAs maintain fort-
nightly collection of refuse, but collect recyclables on a weekly
basis (WRAP, 2009a). Restricting refuse collection in this way has
been shown to promote recycling activities and increase recycling
rates (Williams and Cole, 2013).
2.5. Contamination, quality and types of recyclables
Recycling efficiency is highly dependent on the quality of the
dry recyclable input materials (Velis and Brunner, 2013). In gen-
eral, high quality secondary materials can support ‘‘closed loop”
recycling, as they can directly substitute virgin materials, while
lower quality materials will normally be ‘‘cascaded” into lower
value applications. However, the quality of materials collected
can be easily affected by contamination introduced at various
stages of the segregation at source, collection and sorting/recycling
processes (e.g. food contact materials (FCM) and/or cosmetics plas-
tic packaging). In some cases, as it happens with polyolefins (PO),
contamination can also occur during the first use (e.g. food compo-
nent sorption by the packaging) and/or during storage (prior to the
implementation of any recycling process), thereby making closed
loop recycling for PO rather impossible.
WRAP (2015b) defines contamination during recycling as ‘‘un-
wanted or non-target material within the commingled recycling
including liquids and food within target material” (WRAP,
2015b). This broad definition generally manifests one of the
Contamination with non-recyclable materials that should be in
the residual waste stream (i.e. black bin);
Contamination with non-targeted materials being erroneously
collected, e.g. by householder putting glass in recycling contain-
ers even though their WCA does not collect this material;
Targeted materials collected but contaminated with liquids, oils
or putrescibles, e.g. food residues.
Contamination during KS processes is usually associated with
incorrect segregation by householders, who are then encouraged
to re-segregate their waste for the next collection. Contamination
noticed post-KS, HWRC or BS i.e. during the offloading of a RCV
may potentially lead to rejection of the whole load either to landfill
or to another MRF (‘‘dirty” MRFs) that can sort the waste. Finally,
contamination that evades the MRFs pre-sorting procedures can
not only affect the quality of the dry recyclables, but also damage
facilities (mechanical sorting equipment), leading to further rejec-
tion by the reprocessors.
The quality of the recyclates obtained from the various collec-
tion schemes is debated by many parties involved in recycling.
KS is normally considered to produce the highest quality recy-
clables in comparison to other schemes. The Department for Envi-
ronment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) advises that source
separation of recyclables increases the value of recycling and low-
ers costs and environmental impact (Defra, 2005). This view is mir-
rored by WRAP who identify that: the quality of recyclates
obtained with KS is more reliable compared to other schemes;
there is a lower net cost involved (WRAP, 2009a) and have lower
rejection rate in MRFs than commingled waste (WRAP, 2009b).
Other advantages of KS collection scheme, include higher portion
of collected recyclables that are, actually, recycled and ability to
diversify to collection of other types of materials.
Other investigators come to different conclusions. Some report
that source-separated and commingled collection produce compa-
rable quality recyclates (Feil et al., 2017; Luijsterburg and
Goossens, 2014), or that higher total collection yields of dry recy-
clables are obtained via commingled rather than separate collec-
tion (WYG, 2011).
Consequently, LAs are often left with an unclear choice regard-
ing how quality vs. quantity of recyclables can be optimised so as
to achieve their recycling targets. The purpose of this study is to
provide some clarity and shed some light regarding the effect of
the various collection methods on the quantity and types of recy-
clates obtained.
3. Methodology and data sources
The waste data flow (WDF) database (WasteDataFlow, 2015)
that archives quarterly data reported by all LAs and waste disposal
authorities (WDAs) on waste collected and processed in the UK,
was used as the primary source of data. WDF contains data on pop-
ulation, number of HHs and weight of all materials collected from
HH and non-HH sources in each LA. Annual plastic waste arisings
were calculated based on Defra latest statistics on packaging waste
for years 2012–2014, assuming an even quarterly distribution
throughout the year 2014, which was estimated at 555 kt (Defra,
2016). The total amounts of plastics collected in England during
the examined period were calculated at 131 kt (for KS), 8 kt (for
HWRCs) and 2 kt (for BSs), respectively; thus a total of 141 kt. This
amount accounts for only 25.5% of the plastic waste generated in
England; the majority of plastics (approx. 55%) end up in the resid-
ual waste stream, for disposal to landfills, EfW and/or MBT plants;,
with the remaining 19.5% estimated to be disposed as litter (street
or marine litter).
Data was obtained for 320 LAs in England, including the 6 uni-
tary counties and the City of London (WasteDataFlow, 2015). Fur-
ther details on the type of plastic recyclables collected, materials
collected commingled with plastics, containers used to store plas-
tic recyclables for collection and frequency of collection were
obtained from the LA’s individual websites.
The collection methods considered here were KS, BSs and
HWRCs. Waste data obtained also included information on waste
J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159 151
flows from street recycling bins, but their contribution to the over-
all collected amount was found to be negligible.
The compositional analysis of commingled material input and
output in MRFs, performed by WRAP, was used to determine the
amount and distribution of plastics in the commingled stream for
each of the LAs commingled weight; thus, approx. 17% of the com-
mingled stream consists of plastics; 7% plastic bottles, 4% pots, tubs
and trays (PTTs), 3% plastic films (WRAP, 2015b), 2% plastic fines
(plastic particles < 45 mm) and 1% non-packaging plastics and liq-
uids (WRAP, 2015b). However, given that approx. 75% of inputs to
MRFs come from HH waste, and 25% from commercial and indus-
trial (C&I) waste (Tolvik-Consulting, 2011; WRAP, 2007), for every
100 t of waste presented at a MRF (rounding to the nearest 1 t), the
HH waste stream was estimated to consist of 7 t of bottles, 4 t of
PTTs, 3 t of films and 62 t of other waste, while the C&I stream will
consist of 2 t plastic fines, 1 t NPP and 21 t of other waste; i.e., the
HH waste stream is enriched in plastics compared to the C&I
stream. Thus, a fully commingled HH waste stream intended for
MRF will be 9.2% bottles, 5.3% PTTs and 3.9% films; a total of
18.4% plastics. This is the calculation basis followed in the detailed
methodological approach of the descriptive statistics presented in
Section 4.2.1.
Descriptive statistics were performed for various examined
variables along with comparisons by relevant categorical factors
(e.g. per type of collection scheme) and groupings of cases (e.g.
regional overviews). Results were analysed in order to reveal pat-
terns and to formulate any hypotheses on the interdependence of
waste plastics collection schemes and their potential to increase
the amount of PCPP waste collected for recycling. All the major
findings are presented and discussed in Section 4.
4. Results and discussion
4.1. Distribution of collection schemes in LAs in England
Out of the 320 LAs in England, 315 operate a KS collection
(either individually or in combination with HWRC and/or BSs),
which represents approx. 98% of all the LAs that operate in Eng-
land. About 19% operate only KS, while the rest operate together
with either BS or HWRC or with the combination of all three
schemes (see Fig. 1a). The remaining 5 LAs either specified that
they do not collect plastics of any kind or did not publish the
details of materials collected on their websites. However, these 5
LAs operate BSs and/or HWRCs, thus making up for the 1.5%
(sum of 0.9%, 0.3% and 0.3%) of the combined collection systems
that is depicted in Fig. 1a. This accords with previous UK-
focussed analyses, from major English organizations, e.g. RECOUP
(RECycling Of Used Plastics), WRAP or WYG (global consulting
and advisory company), where the whole of the UK is accounted,
providing similarly high contribution of the KS scheme (Recoup,
As it was explained in Section 2.1, various modes of collection
are implemented within the KS collection (Fig. 1b). Over half is
simply fully commingled collection (C), a third involves commin-
gled collection with a separate stream of glass, paper and/or plastic
(Cx), while the remainder involves other combinations of commin-
gled collection with either two separate material streams (Cxx) or
even more streams (multi-commingled, MC) (Table 1). The most
prevalent combination of collection system types is the KS and
HWRC collection (42.8%), (Fig. 1a). More specifically, 315 LAs have
reported to use KS collection, 233 LAs to use HWRC and 122 LAs to
use BSs. Furthermore, it was calculated that approx. 99% of total
plastics collected came from KS and HWRCs, with the remainder
coming from BSs (Fig. 1a).
The distribution of the different containers used for the collec-
tion of plastics, as well as the distribution of the frequency of col-
lection is shown in Fig. 2. It is apparent that most LAs collect
bottles, PTTs and films via wheeled bins (primarily) and sacks (sec-
ondarily). Fortnightly collection is the most common.
4.1.1. KS collection
The three main schemes under the KS collection (described in
Section 2.1.), as well as any other combination of schemes within
this category, were identified and classified using the abbreviations
presented in Table 1.
Information on collection schemes for the 313 (out of the 315)
LAs were accounted in the present study, since necessary informa-
tion were missing from the other 2 LAs’ websites. As shown in
Fig. 1b, about 50% of the LAs (157 out of the 313) collected their
plastics fully commingled, while KS sort collection accounted for
Cg, Cq, Cp
Cqg, Cpq
Fig. 1. Distribution percentages of 320 LAs operating (a) with various collection
systems and (b) under the KS collection scheme and its variations. The dominance
of the KS scheme and the commingled way of collection are obvious. Key: KS:
kerbside, HWRC: household waste recycling centres, BS: bring sites, C: commingled,
Cg: separate glass stream within the commingled dual or 3 stream collection
scheme, Cq: separate fiber/paper stream within the commingled dual or 3 stream
collection scheme, Cp: separate plastic stream within the commingled dual or 3
stream collection scheme, Cxx: schemes with 2 separate material streams and a
commingled stream under the multi commingled stream, MC: multi commingled
stream with either 2 or more commingled collection separated according to fiber
and containers or other.
152 J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159
ca. 12% (37 out of the 313). Overall, 87% of LAs collect their plastics
commingled, whereas a mere 13% accounts for a separate collec-
tion. This data ‘‘reality” is in contrast to the debate statement of
‘‘quality vs quantity” that KSS supporters use over commingled col-
lection. Even considering that KSS is a much cheaper option, the
final choice, as described in Fig. 1b, would still be commingled col-
lection, most likely because it is more convenient for both HH res-
idents and collection crews.
4.1.2. HWRCs
The 233 LAs that reported operating HWRCs contributed
thereby a total of approx. 8 kt of plastics collected over the exam-
ined period, around 6% of the grand total. Data on the performance
of HWRCs was almost non-existent before the report from the
National Assessment of Civic Amenity Sites in 2004, the findings
of which (summarised in a WRAP report) indicated 31% recycling
rate for English HWRCs, excluding rubble recycling (WRAP,
2012). Later WRAP studies in 2013/2014 report that 697 HWRCs
were identified in England (7 less than in previous year), with
76.3% targeting plastics collection and an average recycling rate
of 60.1% (WRAP, 2014a).
The contribution of HWRCs is expected to be significant mainly
due to their acceptance of items that are not accepted in KS collec-
tion, such as bulky items and other plastic items like film and hard
plastics (Suffolk Coastal, 2015).
4.1.3. BSs
A total of 122 LAs reported BSs collection quantities, with a
recorded number of 1444 BSs operating, collecting plastics either
commingled and/or source separated. Some LAs reported only
quantities, but omitted the number of existing BSs in their area.
The plastic quantities in the commingled collection could not be
determined in detail, since this data was not reported; therefore,
in order to estimate the amount of plastics, the assumption of the
18.4% of the commingled stream was again adopted. The amount
of plastics collected source-separated for the period of the collec-
tion was approx. 1 kt, while the amount of the total plastics col-
lected was estimated at almost 2 kt. This amount represents only
a mere 1% of the overall collection of plastics (see Fig. 1a). WRAP’s
BS guidance indicates that the general contribution to collection of
BSs has reduced by 31% from 2007 to 2011, with a simultaneous
reduction to the contribution to recycling (from 8.1% to 4.7%) dur-
ing the same period (WRAP, 2014b). Thus, it can be speculated that
the contribution of BSs in plastics collection might have reached a
plateau and might have become irrelevant to the increased KS col-
lection, unless LAs proceed to a major change in their strategy.
4.2. Descriptive statistics on plastics collection
4.2.1. Detailed methodological approach
Table 2 summarises the amount of plastics sent to recycling by
LAs, grouped by collection scheme for the 320 LAs reporting. The
‘collected’ (Coll) plastics column is taken directly from our data-
base and adds together that collected at the KS and that collected
via other schemes (HWRC, BS, etc.), the median and mean values
of the latter being 15.8% and 27.3% of the total respectively. This
material is assumed to be sent directly for recycling.
The ‘MRF’ column is calculated using the reported total com-
mingled input (KS plus other, the median and mean of the latter
being <1% and 3.2% of the total respectively) sent to a MRF facility
in the following manner. As it has already been stated, the total
input to MRF is reported by WRAP (2015b), to consist of 17% plas-
tics; 7% bottles, 4% PTTs, 3% films, 2% plastic fines and 1% non-
packaging plastics (WRAP, 2015b). However it is known that bot-
tles, PTTs and films overwhelmingly dominate the plastics fraction
of HH waste and are largely absent from commercial and industrial
Fig. 2. Distribution of type of containers used, frequency of collection and number of LAs. It is clear that the majority of the LAs collect bottles, PTTs and films, by the use of
wheeled bins and sacks, whereas similar number of LAs use boxes for the same type of collection, both fortnightly and weekly.
Table 2
Amount of plastics (kg HH
) sent to recycling by LA reported collection scheme (C, Cg, Cp, etc.) reported via direct collection (Coll) and estimated from MRF inputs and MRFs
rejection rates with supporting statistical data (95% confidence in the mean; maximum and minimum; Total = total number of reporting LAs by collection scheme; No data =
number of LAs not reporting sufficient data for analysis; Data = number of LAs submitting sufficient data for analysis).
C Cg Cp Cpq Cq Cqg KSS MC Mcg Other
Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF Coll MRF
Mean 3.1 34.4 1.6 25.6 30.7 n/a 24.9 n/a 4.3 20.2 11.2 5.6 16.7 4.1 4.9 6.6 6.9 n/a 4.0 38.9
±95% 0.8 2.2 0.9 3.7 n/a n/a 3.7 n/a 1.2 3.2 10.0 1.5 2.5 3.9 2.3 3.8 n/a n/a 3.1 36.3
Max 24.4 63.4 6.0 48.2 n/a n/a 26.8 n/a 18.2 43.8 19.9 6.4 33.9 15.6 10.7 17.8 n/a n/a 9.0 57.4
Min 0.1 5.4 0.1 9.9 n/a n/a 23.0 n/a 0.1 2.1 2.2 4.9 0.6 0.2 0.3 1.7 n/a n/a 0.8 20.4
Total 157 157 33 33 1 1 2 2 65 65 5 5 36 36 12 12 1 1 9 9
No data 61 23 14 2 0 1 0 2 25 25 2 3 0 29 3 4 0 1 4 7
Data 96 134 19 31 1 0 2 0 40 40 3 2 36 7 9 8 1 0 5 2
J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159 153
waste, and vice versa (WRAP, 2015b). However, if only certain plas-
tic types are collected for recycling in the commingled stream and
the rest are either separated at source or enter the residual waste
stream, then the corresponding percentage of plastics in a given
commingled stream must be reduced accordingly, e.g. in an
authority where only bottles and PTTs are collected in the commin-
gled stream, the percentage of plastics will be 9.2% + 5.3% = 14.5%
and so on.
When analysing across multiple LAs with a variety of
approaches to collecting plastics, these percentages must be
increased by a correction factor so that the overall average compo-
sition of the commingled HH waste remains at 18.4% in plastics.
This correction factor is equal to 18.4% divided by the average per-
centage of plastics determined as described above according to the
collection practices, and thus will depend on the particular group
of LAs analysed (i.e. it is not intrinsic to the model); in this case,
the average was 13.2% giving a correction factor of 1.40.
For each LA, the total reported commingled input to the MRF is
multiplied by the plastics percentage appropriate to the reported
collection details, corrected accordingly, and then multiplied by
the pass-through rate (i.e. 1 minus the reported reject rate) for
the appropriate facility in each case.
4.2.2. Collection efficacy of the various schemes
The proportion of LAs reporting sufficiently complete data for
analysis in accordance with their stated collection scheme is
mixed, varying among the four major schemes from over 90%
(MRF inputs from Cg, plastics collected for recycling from KSS) to
around 60% (MRF inputs from Cq). In total, 97 out of 320 LAs did
not report sufficient data to be included in the analysis.
Plastics collection is dominated by a small number of schemes;
over half of LAs report collections as fully commingled (C) and a fur-
ther 40% by just three schemes (Cq, Cg, KSS). Many LAs reported
data that might not be expected given their stated collection
scheme, e.g. 55% of those reporting as using collection schemes that
do not collect plastic at the KS reported data for the amount of plas-
tics sent for recycling, and 29% of those reporting as using fully sep-
arated collection reported sending some commingled materials to
MRF. In most cases, these are small amounts associated with the
non-KS collection schemes. However, 10 of the LAs reporting as col-
lecting fully commingled, reported figures for KS collection of sep-
arated plastics, 4 of these in significant amounts over 50 t in the
reporting quarter. Similarly, 7 of the LAs reporting as collecting
using the KSS scheme, reported collecting significant amounts of
commingled waste. This suggests either that LAs are using mixed
methods for collecting waste that are not properly characterised
by the reporting categories available, and/or that LAs are reporting
under the wrong headings. In most cases, it is possible by examin-
ing the contextual information associated with the data to infer
which of these has occurred, but this requires a subjective assess-
ment and has, thus, not been carried out in this analysis.
The efficacy of the various schemes with regard to plastics recy-
cling (i.e. the plastics recycling yield achieved, in kg HH
also extremely variable, by over two orders of magnitude in many
cases. The highest reported yield for direct collection of plastics for
recycling was approx. 40 kg HH
(Royal Borough of Kingston
upon Thames, KSS) and the highest estimate for plastics derived
from commingled waste sent to MRF was approx. 63 kg HH
(Ashford Borough Council, C). LAs reporting very low recycling
rates are often – but not always – associated with one or more
instances of missing data, or again potentially reporting under
the wrong categories (see above).
Fig. 3 summarises the efficacy of the various schemes contribut-
ing in the recycling of plastic under three categories; those LAs that
report KS separation of plastic (group 1), those that report collect-
ing fully commingled (group 2), and those that report KS separation
but not of plastic (group 3), with the data split according to
whether the plastics sent for recycling is directly collected or
derived from a MRF. While those LAs in group 1 unsurprisingly
send the most directly for recycling, the total amount of plastics
recycled is exceeded by both other groups. Arguments as to which
collection scheme is the most appropriate therefore depend on
whether it is preferable to maximise the direct (source separated)
collection of plastic (which is perceived by some to provide a better
quality recyclate) (Defra, 2005; WRAP, 2009a, b) or the total
amount of plastic recycled (commingled collection) (Feil et al.,
2017; Luijsterburg and Goossens, 2014; WYG, 2011).
Based on the premise that plastics collected separately from KS
and those from BSs and HWRCs provide a better quality recyclate
than those derived from MRFs, it was considered useful to look
at the distribution of plastics recyclate that is generated via these
three options, i.e. KSS, BSs and HWRCs, and via MRFs. Fig. 4
Fig. 3. Plastics collected for recycling by LAs grouped according to collection group scheme. Error bars = 95% confidence in the mean. Legend adjacent to top of columns is
number of LAs reporting sufficient data / total number of LAs reporting under each group of collection schemes.
154 J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159
illustrates the quality of plastic recyclate generated in each region
via the aforementioned options. The abundant stream of plastic
recyclate in most regions is the one derived via MRFs, with the
exception of North and South West regions where plastic recyclate
was mostly derived from KSS, BSs and HWRCs. This can be attrib-
uted to the prevalence of LAs operating in these regions by using a
high number of KSS and, BSs and HWRCs (e.g. South West involves
14 LAs that provide KSS collection plastics, 23 LAs that also have
HWRCs and 16 LAs providing BSs). North West region, on the other
hand, has only 4 LAs that provide KSS, but 26 LAs with HWRCs and
10 LAs with BSs.
Fig. 5 plots the total amount of plastic sent for recycling against
the number of HHs in a WCA for each of the groups described
above. Little correlation or clustering is apparent, other than that
the largest 3% of LAs tend to perform relatively poorly regardless
of the collection scheme adopted.
4.3. Sorting of recyclables and plastics
The recyclables collected from the 320 LAs are reportedly going
to MRF for further sorting. According to the quarterly data from the
WDF, only 275 LAs have reported amounts of recyclables sent to
MRFs, and these were selected for the analysis in regards to the
MRFs input. From the WDF and the information provided in
WRAP’s Material Facilities Portal and operator’s websites, it was
possible to identify the MRFs where LAs send their recyclables.
As shown in Fig. 6, LAs use MRFs mostly situated within their
region, but the use of nearby MRFs is also shown to be quite preva-
lent. This can be explained by the fact that contractors responsible
for the collection of recyclable materials from the LAs, may also
have respective contracts with MRF operators which lead to this
wide distribution of recyclables in the variety of existing MRFs.
Capacity aspects could also be another factor that governs the final
destination of the recyclables collected, but due to the limited
range of data and lack of analysis on the C&I waste, that is also
accepted in the MRFs, makes it difficult to derive any robust data
with regards to capacity.
Based on the reported data, the amount of recyclables (not just
plastics) that went into 52 MRFs for the examined period was just
over 687 kt; 556 kt of these were diverted for further reprocessing
(either nationally or elsewhere), while the rest were either rejected
to landfill (20 kt) and/or diverted to EfW plants (36 kt) for
energy recovery. This resulted in an overall rejection rate of
approx. 9%, which is close to the 8.5% reported by WRAP (WRAP,
2009b) and to the 10.8% reported by the Environment Agency
(WRAP, 2006b). However, a detailed scrutiny into the available
reported data in combination with the analysis on the size (capac-
ity) of MRFs in which they are diverted to, has indicated that rejec-
tion rates may vary widely depending on the size (capacity) of the
MRF (Fig. 7).
These results are in contrast with the reported speculations that
rejection rate is inversely proportional to the size of the plant, with
Fig. 4. Distribution of collected plastics per region in England via the KSS scheme, via other-BSs and HWRCs- schemes, and the commingled via MRFs scheme. The abundance
of the commingled collection is obvious.
Fig. 5. LA size (with regards to number of HHs) vs. total amount of plastics collected
for recycling. Key: Group 1. Collection with separated plastics (KSS, Cp, Cpq, MC,
MCg), Group 2. Fully commingled collection (C), Group 3. Collection with separation
of materials other than plastic (Cg, Cq, Cqg, Other).
J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159 155
the smaller MRFs having a higher rejection rate and the bigger
MRFs having the smallest rejection rate (WRAP, 2006c). This spec-
ulation is supported on the fact that larger MRFs are expected to
have a more sophisticated sorting technology (e.g. manual vs. sen-
sor based sorting) and thus be more effective in sorting recyclables
into their nature (i.e. glass, plastic, paper/card, and metals). Espe-
cially in the case of plastics, large MRFs are considered to be tech-
nically capable to address challenges associated with black-
coloured polymers, plastic containers with film attachments that
cannot be recycled, and the presence of organic materials (contam-
ination or non-recyclable bio-based polymers) (WRAP, 2006b). As
reported by WRAP (2006a), a 2–5% rejection rate could apply on
the most efficient MRFs whereas a 12–15% on the less efficient
(WRAP, 2006a). Nonetheless, the analysis performed in this study
(based on the reported data) demonstrated that MRFs with capac-
ity between 25 kt and 50 kt, (11 MRFs were accounted in this cat-
egory) were the most efficient with a rejection rate of 6.7%,
followed by MRFs with a capacity of 10–25 kt (4 MRFs in this class)
and >100 kt (16 MRFs in this range), with 7.2% and 10.2% rejection
rates, respectively. The MRFs with the highest rejection rate were
Fig. 6. Distribution of MRFs used by LAs per region in England.
Fig. 7. MRFs efficiency and rejection rate (per category, according to their capacity).
156 J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159
those in the range of 50–100 kt (20 MRFs in this range) with a
12.5% rejection rate and the smaller MRFs (<10 kt) (just 1 MRF in
this class) with a rejection rate of 17.5% (Fig. 7). Apart from the
rejection taking place within the MRFs, there is also a minor rejec-
tion at their gate, but this differentiation was not possible to be
made based on the data that were available from WDF.
4.4. Reprocessing of plastic materials and recycling rate
Some have expressed concerns that sorting plastics is not a sus-
tainable business in the UK. According to Ellen MacArthur Founda-
tion, the global plastic economy has to be redesigned completely
(Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016). Best practices for recycling
plastics require that they are separated appropriately and washed
to be further reprocessed, even though washing is not considered a
sufficient enough decontamination process for FCM and/or cos-
metics. Moreover, different polymers (and combinations of addi-
tives) contained are a major issue for sorters, as well as
reprocessors. From the WDF the names of the reprocessors are
given, but tracing their location and/or the fate of the recyclables
after being reprocessed is beyond the aims and scope of the pre-
sent research. In the end, considerable amount of both high and
low quality recyclables (almost 60% of the amount reaching at
MRFs–low quality- and reprocessors–high quality-) will end up
being exported mostly to China, Hong Kong and other Asian coun-
tries (WRAP, 2016).
The amount finally sent to reprocessors was estimated at
approx. 22 kt and Fig. 8 presents the distribution percentages of
the plastics reprocessed per region. The prevalence of mixed plas-
tics and mixed plastic bottles fractions in all regions is clear. It is
also noteworthy that South East region and East England displayed
high amounts of PET and HDPE sent to reprocessors, mainly due to
the higher number of LAs that operate with a plastic collection sys-
tem in these areas (63 out of 67 LAs and 47 out 47 LAs, respec-
tively). There are still quantities of plastics further rejected from
the reprocessors which were reported to be approx. 11 t. The recy-
cling rate, according to the most commonly used definition shown
below, was calculated at around 23% based on the ratio of the
amount of waste plastics collected for recycling (excluding rejects
at MRFs-PRFs) divided by the amount of waste plastic packaging
generated in England during the examined period (waste arisings).
Nonetheless, the authors acknowledge that there are various
other definitions reported both in ‘‘grey literature” and in scientific
research, as well as several other uncertainty issues involved. How-
ever, these are outside the focus of the present work, but will be
discussed in another upcoming work of the same team of authors.
5. Conclusions
The present research has focused on evaluating the effect that
different collection schemes have on the quantity of PCPP waste
collected for recycling, using empirical serial data from HH dry
recyclables collection in England, in 2014. Three main collection
schemes were analysed: (i) KS recycling collection, (ii) HWRCs, also
known as ‘civic amenity sites’, and (iii) BSs. The main conclusions
drawn from the data analysis are as follows:
Fig. 8. Distribution of plastics sent to reprocessors, from July-September 2014, per region in England, UK. The prevalence of mixed plastics and mixed plastic bottles fractions
is clear in all regions.
Recycling rate ¼amount of PCPP waste collected for recycling ðexcluding rejects at MRFsPRFsÞ
Total amount of PCPP waste generated
J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159 157
(1) Across all collection schemes, most LAs (203) use the AWC
and collect PTTs and plastic bottles by the use of wheeled
bins and sacks.
(2) The KS collection scheme was found to be the dominant one
amongst BSs and HWRCs, contributing to the amount of
PCPP waste collected for recycling. The efficacy of schemes
varies widely between authorities. In general, fully commin-
gled collection (C) is estimated to produce the highest yield
of plastics collected for recycling in terms of kg HH
There is no overall correlation between the size of a LA (mea-
sured in number of HHs) and its plastics recycling yield.
(3) At that point in time, nearly a third of LAs did not report suf-
ficient data to be included in the analysis. Many LAs reported
data that suggest they operate mixed schemes, or that plas-
tics collection is being reported under the wrong categories.
Some LAs that report very low plastics recycling rates, may
not be reporting them correctly. The quality of the data
could be greatly improved by simplifying or clarifying the
reporting process, or examining the categories under which
LAs must report.
(4) Out of the approx. 141 kt of plastics collected for recycling
(reported on an ‘as received’ basis and accounting for almost
25.5% of the total plastic waste generated, that is 555 kt)
(Defra, 2016), only a mere 22 kt (ca. 16%) were reported to
be finally sent to reprocessors (PRFs) (either directly or after
being processed in MRFs). Mixed plastics and mixed plastic
bottles are the most abundant fractions of this amount,
accounting for ca. 50% and 40%, respectively.
(5) A recycling rate of approx. 23%, based on the most com-
monly used definition, was calculated for PCPP waste, in
England, in 2014 (quarterly figure).
To the authors’ best knowledge, the existing academic literature
on the impact of different collection schemes on the recyclables
quantity and quality is rather limited (Kranzinger et al., 2017;
Pfeisinger, 2016; Snell et al., 2017). The present work is merely a
first step towards this direction. The fact that EC has recently intro-
duced a ‘Circular economy package’, setting ambitious recycling
targets and identifying waste plastics as a key area where major
improvements and focus is necessary (European Commission,
2015; European Parliament, 2014), solidifies the significance of this
research and highlights the need for further investigation. As a
future proposition, the authors would recommend that in order
to maximise the total amount of recyclables collected per house-
hold a commingled collection should, perhaps, be implemented.
Besides, based on the findings of the present work, this is the
scheme that produced the highest yield of plastic recyclates, in
terms of kg HH
We gratefully acknowledge the UK Natural Environment
Research Council (NERC) and the UK Economic and Social Research
Council (ESRC) support who funded this work under the main pro-
ject with title: ‘Complex-Value Optimisation for Resource Recov-
ery’ (CVORR) project (Grant No. NE/L014149/1). We are also
grateful to the reviewers for their constructive input.
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J.N. Hahladakis et al. / Waste Management 75 (2018) 149–159 159
... These interventions included stocking reusable cups for sale to reduce the number of hot beverages bought in single-use cups in cafes (Poortinga and Whitaker, 2018); adding bins to promote recycling (Becker et al., 2014;Cheung et al., 2018;McCoy et al., 2018;Miller et al., 2016;O'Connor et al., 2010); adding water refill stations to reduce plastic water bottle pollution (Willis et al., 2019) and implementing recycling schemes/policies (Dahlén et al., 2009;Ferronato et al., 2020;Hage et al., 2018;Hahladakis et al., 2018;Jacobsen et al., 2018;Morlok et al., 2017;Saphores and Nixon, 2014;Viscusi et al., 2012;Woodard et al., 2006). On average, interventions involving environmental restructuring had a very large effect on behaviours related to plastic waste (d + = 1.31, k = 23, see Table 3). ...
... Service provision included implementation of waste management and recycling services (Dahlén et al., 2009;Ferronato et al., 2020;Hage et al., 2018;Hahladakis et al., 2018;Jacobsen et al., 2018;Morlok et al., 2017;Saphores and Nixon, 2014;Woodard et al., 2006); support for recycling in the workplace (Holland et al., 2006) and the distribution of free reusable cups to university students (Poortinga and Whitaker, 2018) and; reusable water bottles to primary school students (Zorpas et al., 2017). On average, interventions providing services had a large effect on behaviours related to plastic waste (d + = 1.64, k = 7, see Table 4). ...
... Interventions targeting physical opportunity included increasing the availability of resources (both objects and services) within the physical environment to reduce barriers to the desired target behaviour; for example, distributing free reusable cups/bottles and making them available for purchase (Poortinga and Whitaker, 2018;Zorpas et al., 2017), adding water refill stations (Willis et al., 2019) and recycling bins within the environment (Becker et al., 2014;Cheung et al., 2018;McCoy et al., 2018;Miller et al., 2016;O'Connor et al., 2010), increasing availability of local waste management and recycling services (Dahlén et al., 2009;Ferronato et al., 2020;Hage et al., 2018;Hahladakis et al., 2018;Jacobsen et al., 2018;Morlok et al., 2017;Saphores and Nixon, 2014;Woodard et al., 2006). Interventions targeting physical opportunity also manifested as decreasing the availability of resources that promote undesired behaviour (e.g., plastic carrier bag bans (Bharadwaj et al., 2020;Macintosh et al., 2020;Sharp et al., 2010;Taylor and Villas-Boas, 2016)). ...
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Eliminating plastic waste relies, in part, on changing human behaviour. This review aimed to (a) use the AACTT (Action-Actor-Context-Target-Time) framework to identify and categorise relevant behaviours, (b) use the COM-B (Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behaviour) model to identify, categorise and evaluate variables that might be associated with these behaviours, (c) use the Behaviour Change Wheel and the Behaviour Change Techniques Taxonomy to identify, categorise and evaluate the nature of interventions. A systematic literature search identified 60 studies of behaviour relating to plastic waste. Meta-analysis was used to quantify (i) the strength and direction of the relationship between variables and behaviour and (ii) the impact of intervention components on changes in behaviour. Studies focused predominantly on the general public (actors), recycling (action), shopping (context), and a limited range of plastic waste items. Variables reflecting capability, opportunity, and motivation all had medium-strength associations with behaviour. The intervention types associated with the strongest changes in behaviour were ‘persuasion’, ‘enablement’ and ‘environmental restructuring’. The policy options associated with strongest changes in behaviour were ‘communications and marketing’, ‘environmental and social planning’ and ‘service provision’. Interventions targeting ‘psychological capability’ had a negative effect on plastic waste reducing behaviours while interventions targeting ‘physical opportunity’ and ‘reflective motivation’ had the strongest positive effects. All identified behaviour change techniques had medium to large effects on changes in behaviour. Taken together, the findings provide clear directions for future research and efforts to reduce plastic waste.
... Recycling may involve both government and business in the provision of facilities and infrastructure (Xevgenos et al., 2015); however, waste infrastructure may be highly variable between countries, from national networks to local collectors. For example, 98% of local authorities in England provide kerbside collection for households (Hahladakis et al., 2018), while in Norway 70% of households have access to kerbside collection (Xevgenos et al., 2015). Furthermore, public confusion about separation of materials can contribute to contamination, lowering the quality of collected material to recyclers (Rousta et al., 2015;Thoden van Velzen et al., 2019). ...
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The recalcitrance of modern plastics is a key driver of the accretion of plastics in both waste management streams and the environment. As a result, the management of plastic waste has become a focal point of both research and public policy. The following review summarises the effectiveness of widespread approaches to plastic management, before exploring recent developments in the use of both naturally derived products and plastic-degrading organisms to reduce the burden of plastic wastes, including the potential value of symbiotic relationships between plastic-degrading organisms in the biodegradation of plastics in the environment. To date, plastic management strategies have typically focused on interventions to influence both plastic production and consumer behaviour, improvements in effective waste management systems and increased circularity of materials, and changes to the product design to increase the lifespan of the product and its suitability for preferred waste streams. However, the relative success of these measures has been mixed. Complementary to these established approaches is the increasing exploitation of biological and biochemical processes and natural products, including the identification of organisms and enzymes which are able to biodegrade different plastics at meaningful rates. This recent research frequently focuses on microbes from soil and marine environments, identifying numerous enzymes capable of acting on polymers or specific functional groups. While questions remain as to their effectiveness outside of laboratory conditions, the distribution of identified species and their apparent effectiveness indicates the potential benefits of these microbes both individually or in symbiosis with an appropriate host species. Graphical Abstract Overview of plastic life cycle and current management strategies. Arrows indicate the flow of plastic material; thicker-lined boxes highlight plastic management beyond simple landfilling. Pros and cons for different stages and management are listed above and below items, respectively. WWTP: Wastewater treatment plants.
... Portsmouth was not amongst the 22% of UK councils that met this target (Letsrecycle 2021). The total amount of plastic sent to a Materials' Recovery Facility (MRF) in the southeast of England was greater (approximately 14,000 t) than any other area in the UK (< 8000 t) in 2012-2014 (Hahladakis et al. 2018). Approximately 50,000 t of all waste from Portsmouth and the surrounding towns is sorted for recycling at the MRF per year and 200,000 t is incinerated at the Energy Recovery Facility (Callingham 2020). ...
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Unlabelled: Understanding the use behaviours of plastic items within households is important to enable informed policy development, particularly with the emerging and developing global plastic treaty. A survey of 400 permanent residents in Portsmouth aimed to identify the general trends in single-use plastic product (SUPP) use and disposal, and their personal motivations and barriers to reducing and recycling plastic. This included identifying common influencers of attitudes such as environmental values, situational characteristics, psychological factors and the individual demographic characteristics of residents. Key factors in consumer behaviour were found to be product availability, affordability and convenience. Often, less conveniently recycled plastics more frequently end up in landfill such as films, shopping bags and personal care items. The age of respondents was found to be the most significantly associated demographic with SUPP consumption, reuse and recycling behaviours. Other demographic variables such as a resident's location within the city, income and vehicle ownership were potential drivers influencing individual attitudes and their incentives towards reducing and recycling their plastic waste. The findings from this study brought to light the importance of effective local plastic governance. This study also identified consumer perceptions and behaviours that could contribute to future holistic plastic policy recommendations. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11625-022-01261-5.
... Because of its low cost and convenience, plastic packaging has become increasingly prevalent over the last few decades. Indeed, in the UK it has been reported that 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste are generated by the market each year with only about one quarter of this collected for recycling [12]. At the point of disposal, plastic packaging typically still has many of its desired functional characteristics and could thus be reused if a number of technological, social, and economic barriers could be overcome. ...
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Reuse of plastic packaging for food is a promising route to reduce the environmental burdens, but presents particular challenges due to the need to avoid cross-contamination of contents. This study investigates the challenges associated with cleaning and assessing existing recycled PET (rPET) food-to-go (FTG) pack forms and provides recommendations to enable a shift towards reusable food packaging systems. Pack forms were fouled under controlled conditions and washed in accordance published guidelines. Three fouling media were selected to represent food residue typically found in FTG packs. Investigated parameters included fouling type and quality, wash and rinse times, and detergent dosage. Cleanliness was assessed using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) swabbing and the effect on the material properties was studied via tensile testing, IR spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. The results demonstrate that cleaning effectiveness is dependent on the quantity of fouling, the duration of the wash cycle and the dosing of detergent indicating the potential to optimise parameters for different fouling conditions. It is also concluded that ATP testing is an inappropriate cleanliness assessment method for food packaging due to many opportunities for it to produce false negative readings, its high cost, and slow response. The rPET material properties remained largely unchanged apart from a slight increase in stiffness, however packaging suffered significant deformation.
... Historical data for all Welsh local authorities (LAs) were secured from WasteDataFlow ondary data are commonly used to inform waste management studies [10]. WasteDataFlow is the official online system for municipal waste data reporting by UK local authorities to government. ...
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Wales is one of the world leaders in household waste recycling with a steady recent recycling rate of ~65%. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) set a statutory target of achieving a 70% recycling rate by 2024/25. We reviewed historical trends in waste management in Wales from 2006 to 2020, with a focus on recycling. Authoritative, official data were obtained from WasteDataFlow, an Internet system for municipal waste data reporting by UK local authorities to government. Data are collected quarterly allowing the generation of time series plots, trendlines and like-for-like comparisons between groupings of various characteristics, such as number of separate kerbside collections, income, political preference, and impact of policy changes. Results showed that the approach taken by the WAG to politically prioritise and encourage participation in household recycling has achieved impressive results that contrast starkly with the recycling performance of other UK countries. In Wales, household waste disposed annually per person via landfill decreased from ~410 kg to 25%. The recycling rate plateaus at exactly the same time as incineration comes on stream. Evidence demonstrates that improvements to recycling rates can become more difficult when incineration becomes available. Whilst further reductions and improvements to recycling in Wales will be more challenging, the WAG’s track record of focused proactive political and policy support shows what can be achieved when there is suitable political will. The WAG has demonstrated that it tends to deliver on its waste-related plans, and it clearly has the best chance of any of the UK’s four countries of achieving its aims.
... China is also actively formulating environmental policies, from national strategies to individual policies and regulations. The garbage classification system has been promoted in recent years, although the recovery rate is still very low at the present stage [86]; consumers also lack the corresponding cognition of garbage classification recovery. From the perspective of consumption, policies can help. ...
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Environmental problems represent one of the most intensive focuses in the world. At present , the rate of environmental damage caused by peoplesʹ consumption of products and services is still far faster than the rate of regeneration, processing, and recycling of natural ecosystems. In the face of increasingly severe environmental problems, consumers must change their consumption behavior toward a sustainable direction. Based on the ultimate goal of sustainable innovation and development, the introduction of sustainable system design thinking can enable the optimization of sustainable systems for production, manufacturing, consumption, or recycling. As with the concept of traditional system design thinking, sustainable system design thinking is not only a product form but also a creative systematic way to solve problems for the purpose of promoting innovation. It has been transformed from "giving form" to "design process", "design strategy", or "design system". Therefore, this study attempts to explore the potential structure of consumers' sustainable consumption cognition from the perspective of designers through the introduction of sustainable system design thinking. This study combined literature analysis and a questionnaire survey to propose a research model with seven constructs and eight hypotheses and then used a reliability test, validity test, and structural equation model to analyze and verify the data. The results show that the three constructs of design evaluation (aesthetics, innovation, and function) in system design thinking are feasible and effective in sustainable design. With the support of sustainability concept, the autonomy of consumers' consumption attitude and intention will be improved. This study can provide reference to governments, enterprises, and designers when formulating, implementing, and practicing sustainable innovative strategies. The results of this study can further influence the continuous promotion and deepening of sustainable design thinking in the cultivation of design talents in colleges and universities, and thus provide multi-field and recyclable theoretical guidance for sustainable design facing future life.
With sky-rocketing demand and unrestricted global production, plastics have become an inseparable part of daily human life and the circular economy at large. Notwithstanding, it is crucial to consider that they lead to substantial economic losses, disrupt the ecological equilibrium, and cause environmental pollution. In this regard, several strategies have been employed in the past, such as recycling techniques, waste management systems, extended producer responsibility, reduction of incineration, plastic prohibition, and globular thinking. These methods work toward the more sustainable usage of plastics in the future, but so far, none have scaled up to the industries’ growing demands. It also reflects the current state of the art of these methods concerning the status of scientific research and gap areas in the recycling pathways. Chemical recycling seems to be one of the most efficient techniques, as it is less time consuming and the least waste is generated, but the requirement of efficient sorting makes it time consuming. While other methods generate waste and are comparatively more time consuming. Thus, each recycling method has its limitations, indicating that much work is needed to tackle the growing problem of plastic pollution. In addition, in the context of the present drawbacks of the methods, this review discusses a concomitant solution to the problem of plastic pollution via sustainable development by offering an alternative to fossil fuel-based plastic materials, i.e., biodegradable plastics.
This study investigates the impact of a policy designed to encourage municipalities to domestically recycle plastic waste in Japan. Using an instrumental variable (IV) approach, I examine whether the Containers and Packaging Recycling Law (CPRL), which includes policies such as subsidising recycling for municipalities and providing municipalities with recyclers, increases the domestic recycling volume of post-consumer plastic waste. The results show that the CPRL increases the recycling volume of plastic packaging waste by approximately 3.10 kg per capita and that of plastic bottles by 0.49 kg per capita. These increases are equivalent to a reduction of 2.6 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, saving US$6.8 million in environmental costs. I also find evidence that these estimated impacts of the CPRL are larger than those of recycling policies aimed at households such as unit-based pricing and door-to-door collection. In contrast to previous studies, my results suggest that, in addition to policies promoting recycling in households, policies designed to encourage municipalities play an important role in the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste. These results demonstrate the importance of understanding the heterogeneity of policy effects on emitters and processors in improving environmental outcomes.
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Waste management is a crucial issue for maintaining the environment and caring for people’s health. Since a wide array of people and communities are exposed to dangers from exceeding the production and growth rate of waste, the efficiency of waste management benefits everyone. This measure requires logical and precise planning. The primary aim of this paper is to categorize waste generation management to preserve the well-being of public health, the environment, and environmental resources. Waste management with the cooperation and collective efforts of citizens, businesses, industries, and government, can continue to enhance materials’ reuse, recycling the whole solid wastes resources. Reducing the excess production of materials is the primary goal of this project. It has been proved that prevention is better than remedy in most cases, thereby proposing green production as an answer. Green production, alongside cleaner production, is seeking prevention innovations, protecting the environment by analysing the flow of materials and energy throughout the manufacturing process. In this regard, this study reviews and summarizes the related research to identify proper options for minimizing the waste materials, energy, and emissions from industrial processes, through strategies for the optimal utilization and application of resources. The reviewed papers are classified into oversees the prerequisite steps for management strategies before and after waste generation. Finally, research gaps have been reported to identify areas for future study. The obtained results showed that in approaching waste, more studied materials are dedicated to waste management but not to prevention or waste minimization before its inception. Furthermore, the best manners in waste management to protect the environment are prioritized, respectively, at first prevention, secondly waste minimization, thereafter recycling the manufactured wastes to hasten the delivery to the landfills and lessen the amount of transportation.
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Landfilling is one of the most common waste management methods employed in all countries alike, irrespective of their developmental status. The most commonly used types of landfills are (a) municipal solid waste landfill, (b) industrial waste landfill, and (c) hazardous waste landfill. There is, also, an emerging landfill type called “green waste landfill” that is, occasionally, being used. Most landfills, including those discussed in this review article, are controlled and engineered establishments, wherein the waste ought to abide with certain regulations regarding their quality and quantity. However, illegal and uncontrolled “landfills” (mostly known as open dumpsites) are, unfortunately, prevalent in many developing countries. Due to the widespread use of landfilling, even as of today, it is imperative to examine any environmental- and/or health-related issues that have emerged. The present study seeks to determine the environmental pollution and health effects associated with waste landfilling by adopting a desk review design. It is revealed that landfilling is associated with various environmental pollution problems, namely, (a) underground water pollution due to the leaching of organic, inorganic, and various other substances of concern (SoC) contained in the waste, (b) air pollution due to suspension of particles, (c) odor pollution from the deposition of municipal solid waste (MSW), and (d) even marine pollution from any potential run-offs. Furthermore, health impacts may occur through the pollution of the underground water and the emissions of gases, leading to carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of the exposed population living in their vicinity. Graphical abstract
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Austria's performance in the collection of separated waste is adequate. However, the residual waste still contains substantial amounts of recyclable materials - for example, plastics, paper and board, glass and composite packaging. Plastics (lightweight packaging and similar non-packaging materials) are detected at an average mass content of 13% in residual waste. Despite this huge potential, only 3% of the total amount of residual waste (1,687,000 t y(-1)) is recycled. This implies that most of the recyclable materials contained in the residual waste are destined for thermal recovery and are lost for recycling. This pilot project, commissioned by the Land of Lower Austria, applied a holistic approach, unique in Europe, to the Lower Austrian waste management system. It aims to transfer excess quantities of plastic packaging and non-packaging recyclables from the residual waste system to the separately collected waste system by introducing a so-called 'catch-all-plastics bin'. A quantity flow model was constructed and the results showed a realistic increase in the amount of plastics collected of 33.9 wt%. This equals a calculated excess quantity of 19,638 t y(-1). The increased plastics collection resulted in a positive impact on the climate footprint (CO2 equivalent) in line with the targets of EU Directive 94/62/EG (Circular Economy Package) and its Amendments. The new collection system involves only moderate additional costs.
Conference Paper
The recycling of packaging waste is an important part of the EU circular economy package, with a political focus on raising the recycling targets for post-consumer plastic packaging waste (PPW). The recycling of PPW involves at least three steps; collection, sorting and mechanical recycling. In contrast to the first two steps, mechanical recycling is poorly documented, as it is considered a free market activity. In order to provide a complete chain description the mechanical recycling yields were determined. The recovery of mass was determined for the main plastic sorting products from both major collection systems: separate collection (SC) and mechanical recovery (MR) from municipal solid waste. This technical assessment was conducted with a laboratory set-up for a standard mechanical recycling process. This analysis showed that there is a substantial sample-to-sample variation in polymeric composition between similar feedstocks and this variation is also observed in recovered masses. Next, the mechanical recycling of polyethylene feedstocks was studied more in depth. Six PE feedstocks with a gradual increasing level of complexity (from only transparent PE bottle bodies to the complete PE sorting product according to DKR 329), were prepared and mechanical recycled with the laboratory set-up. Since the polymeric composition of both the six feedstocks and the six floating milled goods were known, the net PE recycling yield could be calculated. The net PE yields are close to 100% for such a standard recycling process. Additionally, the compositional analysis revealed that contaminants are only partially removed by the standard mechanical recycling process.
In 2003, a deposit system for one-way packaging was introduced in Germany. Since that time, polyethylene terephthalate beverage packaging is collected through various collection systems, a deposit system, a reusable packaging system and the 'Green Dot' (the dual system) with the yellow bag. The manner of collection had a decisive influence on the quality of the generated recycled materials. The research at hand shows for the first time how the quality of polyethylene terephthalate flakes depends on the type of collection system. The results are based on a 14-year time frame, during which the quality of the polyethylene terephthalate flakes was examined using the different collection systems. The criterion used was the amount of contamination of polyethylene terephthalate flakes with various polymers, metals and other substances. Grain size and bulk density were also compared. The outcome shows that material from the deposit systems resulted in a better quality of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flakes.
Material recycling of post-consumer bulk plastics made up of polyolefins is well developed. In this article, it is examined which effects on waste sorting and treatment processes influence the qualities of polyolefin-recyclats. It is shown that the properties and their changes during the product life-cycle of a polyolefin are defined by its way of polymerisation, its nature as a thermoplast, additives, other compound and composite materials, but also by the mechanical treatments during the production, its use where contact to foreign materials is possible and the waste sorting and treatment processes. Because of the sum of the effects influencing the quality of polyolefin-recyclats, conclusions are drawn for the material recycling of polyolefins to reach high qualities of their recyclats. Also, legal requirements like the EU regulation 1907/2006 concerning the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restrictions on chemicals are considered.
The politically preferred solution to fulfil legal recycling demands is often implementing separate collection systems. However, experience shows their limitations, particularly in urban centres with a high population density. In response to the European Union landfill directive, mechanical biological waste treatment plants have been installed all over Europe. This technology makes it possible to retrieve plastic waste from municipal solid waste. Operators of mechanical biological waste treatment plants, both in Germany and the Netherlands, have started to change their mechanical separation processes to additionally produce plastic pre-concentrates. Results from mechanical biological waste treatment and separate collection of post-consumer packaging waste will be presented and compared. They prove that both the yield and the quality of plastic waste provided as feedstock for the production of secondary plastic raw material are largely comparable. An economic assessment shows which conditions for a technical sorting plant are economically attractive in comparison to separate collection systems. It is, however, unlikely that plastic recycling will ever reach cost neutrality.
The revised Waste Framework Directive requires EU Member States to recycle 50% of their household waste by 2020. This study of 48 English authorities from five regions, between 2008/09 and 2012/13, analysed whether the national 50% target was likely to be achieved by 2020 and also investigated the main barriers and possible solutions for local authorities to attain 50% recycling. This study identified that England is unlikely to meet the EU target to reuse, recycle and compost 50% of its household waste by 2020. Key issues included central Government support and guidance, and difference in collection systems by high and low rate local authorities. Key recommendations including structural changes to the collection service including alternate weekly collection for dry recyclate and garden waste with a separate weekly collection of food waste, are suggested. Discussion on suggested amendments to the system of measurement are also included.
Loss of recoverable resources in linear resource flow systems is likely to contribute to the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation. The 'waste hierarchy' in the European Commission's latest Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (WFD2008) makes recommendations on how to address this issue. The WFD2008 is analysed in this work for its adequacy in ensuring return of 'recoverable waste' as a 'resource' into the productive system. Despite the release of guidance documents by the DG Environment, DEFRA and WRAP UK on the interpretation of key provisions of the WFD2008, lack of clarity still exists around the WFD2008 'waste hierarchy'. There is also an overlap between measures such as 'prevention' and 'reduction', 'preparing for reuse' and 'reuse' and lack of clarity on why the measure of 'reuse' is included in the WFD2008 definition of 'prevention'. Finally, absence of the measures of 'recovery' and 'reuse' from the WFD2008 'waste hierarchy' reduces its effectiveness as a resource efficiency tool. Without clarity on the WFD2008 'waste hierarchy', it is challenging for decision makers to take direct action to address inefficiencies existing within their operations or supply chains. This paper proposes the development of an alternative 'hierarchy of resource use' and alternative 'definitions' that attempt to fill identified gaps in the WFD2008 and bring clarity to the key measures of waste prevention, reduction and recovery. This would help the key stakeholders in driving resource effectiveness, which in turn would assist in conservation of natural resources and prevention of environmental degradation. Full text available on the link below: Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.