Ocean Rescue – new recycling method

21st June 2017 | Recycling

A plant near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire has begun commercial operations to recycle plastic aluminium laminate. This is increasingly used by manufacturers to package food, drinks, cosmetics and pet food, but is not currently recycled by councils in the UK. It is a light, flexible material which is cheap and environmentally friendly to produce and transport, but it contains a mixture of plastic and metal which makes it difficult to recycle.

Three councils have successfully trialled the method, but no councils or waste handlers are using the new technology and the material is not collected as part of household recycling.

Enval, the company behind the new recycling technology, estimates 160,000 tons of plastic aluminium laminate is used in the UK each year. The company’s CEO, Carlos Ludlow-Palafox said, “With the recycling process that we are carrying out we will prevent thousands of tons of material from going to landfill. More importantly, we can recover the aluminium that is embedded in the plastic aluminium laminates. Aluminium is one of the most energy intensive products to produce … so if you already have the aluminium, the last thing you want it to send it back to landfill.”

The process involved using a large microwave oven heated to 600 degrees. The material is broken down then fed into the microwave where the heat breaks the plastic into a gas, freeing the aluminium which remains undamaged. Some of the gas produced is used to power the plant, the rest is cooled to create oil which is then sold on.

Allison Ogden-Newton from Keep Britain Tidy said it comes down to money and the arrangements councils have with waste providers. She said, “The difficulty we’ve got is with new technologies – putting them into place with the existing contracts. So essentially it comes back to a cost issue. They have longstanding contracts with existing providers. When those contracts are up for review, that’s the time to introduce these new technologies.”

More information available on the website below