Marisa Brennan, Marketing Manager at Charpak Limited, will be in attendance to give Members a presentation on the circular economy for the local plastics industry.
Contact:M Brennan, Charpak (01480) 434434
Marisa Brennan of Charpak Ltd gave a presentation to Members on the circular economy for plastics. The Panel was informed what a circular economy was and how the local plastic circular economy was working in Huntingdonshire. Charpak is based in Huntingdon and employs 120 people.
Members were informed of Charpak’s objectives of: reduce waste, recycle more, reuse existing resource and remanufacture new products.
The Panel was informed that the biggest challenge in operating a successful circular economy is tying all the relationships together. It was explained that as HDC operates a mixed recycling system, which is convenient for the resident, this means that the recycling requires sorting in order to extract the plastic required by Charpak. It was confirmed that the process incurs no extra cost for the Council and that the costs are incurred by the waste contractor and Charpak.
When manufacturing containers, Charpak sources 90% of the plastic from recycled material. The other 10% is virgin plastic, which is plastic which hasn’t been used before. It was explained that as Charpak’s containers are used in food production, food standards require that 10% of the plastic is virgin plastic. Another reason why Charpak uses a mix of recycled and virgin plastics is that 100% recycled plastic becomes brittle over time, however a mixed plastic means that it can be recycled infinitely.
It was noted that for the circular economy to function effectively, residents require education as to the importance of recycling as it was noted that there is a level of scepticism with the public. The Panel was informed that as recycling in Huntingdonshire is co-mingled, which is a disadvantage for the circular economy as it has be sorted before cleaned. Contamination is also an issue and it was noted that if the contamination rate is above 7% it incurs a financial penalty. Although Members were informed that contamination rates are better this year when compared to last year.
When asked about the effect that the push on reducing plastic would have upon the plastic supply for the circular economy, Members were informed that it is anticipated there won’t be a reduction of plastic in the short term.
It was suggested that Charpak adds ‘made in Huntingdonshire’ to its containers, however the Panel was informed that this is not possible. Charpak will soon be allowed to put ‘made in the UK’ and are currently working on a QR code which, when accessed, will explain where the plastic is from.
Deposit schemes as a way of encouraging recycling was raised but whilst it was recognised that a scheme could incentivise some people, the Panel was informed that deposit schemes are not viable. It was noted that virgin plastic is cheaper but that ethically and environmentally it is better to use recycled plastic.
When asked how Members could assist, the Panel was informed that Members can be active on social media by raising awareness. A Member stated that there needs to be a traditional awareness campaign as some residents do not have access, or choose not to access, social media. It was noted that the message should be going into schools and educating the next generation, however the Panel noted that the Waste Minimisation Team do go into schools although it was recognised that more could be done.
In concluding the Panel: recognised the work that Charpak has done; recognised the efforts of the Waste Minimisation Team and Refuse Officers; encouraged all Members of the District Council to be recycling champions and welcomed the offer of a site visit to Charpak.
(At 8.13pm, during the consideration of this item, Councillor J M Palmer left the meeting.)
(At 8.14pm, during the consideration of this item, Councillor J M Palmer entered the meeting.)