Second life for building films

A collection scheme for polyethylene film discarded by the building trade has been launched by British Polythene Industries (BPI) and building materials supplier Marley. It follows the success of a similar scheme for agricultural plastics.

The agricultural film collection scheme was launched in November 1990 (ENDS Report 190, p 10) under a joint initiative by BPI's Anaplast subsidiary and the National Farmers Union. In the first full operational year, 4,000 tonnes of films were collected out of a total of 30,000 tonnes consumed. The collection company, Second Life Plastics, is receiving 1,000 calls per month from farmers wanting their polyethylene waste removed free of charge.

The scheme for building films will be run along similar lines, with free collection through the same nationwide network of local collection agents for recycling at Anaplast's plant in Ardeer, Scotland.

The target is the 15,000 tonnes of collectable pallet covers - those which are not reused on site in damp-proofing and roofing applications. Trials with the building firm Idea Homes indicated that films from this source are likely to be less heavily contaminated than agricultural plastics.

The emphasis of the promotional material for the scheme is on the potential liability of builders and their suppliers under the new "duty of care" regulations, which require a secure waste disposal chain. The availability of a free disposal outlet should prompt many builders into recycling.

For BPI, the venture, like agricultural plastics recycling, will make a loss in the short term. But with the impending EC proposal on packaging expected to require a 60% recycling rate, the company believes the scheme should give it a competitive edge in the longer term.

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