Two-thirds of recyclable plastic packaging 'thrown away'

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Two-thirds of plastic consumer goods packaging which could be recycled is being thrown away, figures suggest.

Only half a million tonnes of the 1.5 million tonnes recyclable plastic waste created each year is being recycled, data from plastics recycling organisation Recoup show.

The rest goes to landfill or for incineration, because of a lack of knowledge about what can be recycled and because local authorities lack the facilities to deal with it, according to the Co-op, which published the figures.

The Co-op has launched an ambition to have 80% of all its packaging recyclable by 2020, has re-designed and simplified its packaging to make it easier for consumers to recycle and is working with local authorities on the issue.

Iain Ferguson, Co-op environment manager, said: "It is shocking that such a small percentage of plastic packaging is being recycled, especially materials that are already easy to recycle like plastic bottles.

"We need to stop thinking about this plastic as a waste and start to use it as a resource.

"What is needed is a co-ordinated response to the problem. This should start with retailers and major brands listening to recyclers and developing packaging that is better for recycling."

Lee Marshall, chief executive of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac), said: "Packaging plays an important part in protecting products and preventing waste but when it has served its purpose we need to be able to recycle as much as possible.

"Having more consistent packaging makes it easier for local authorities to put in place the systems to collect it and to communicate with their residents."