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Swindon Council considers telling households to bin plastic waste as recycling options become increasingly limited

Plastic pollution continues to be a huge environmental issue. Credit: PA

Swindon Council is considering asking households to throw out all plastics with regular waste - because so much of it is ending up in landfill anyway.

Local Government Association (LGA) analysis suggested earlier this year that only one third of the UK's plastic food container waste is recyclable - with much of it incinerated or dumped in landfill.

A number of councils are thought to be exploring other recycling policies as disposing of unwanted plastic waste continues to cause difficulty.

Swindon is not the only council struggling to cope with demand.

Basingstoke Council has told residents to only recycle plastic bottles, shampoo and bleach bottles.

Similarly, Southampton Council have removed its plastic recycling banks, meaning people can't recycle any mixed plastic that doesn't go in household bins.

Recycling plastic is becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities. Credit: PA

Following China's decision to stop importing plastic waste from the UK in January, councils have been struggling to find alternative, affordable ways of disposing unwanted plastic.

In a bid to solve this issue, Swindon Council is looking to ask households to place commonly recycled items in with their regular bin waste.

This could mean consumers have been pointlessly recycling tonnes of plastic waste for years.

One of the proposals in Swindon's waste disposal strategy is to turn it into fuel, with the intention of eventually replacing fossil fuels.

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Using their Sustainable Swindon' project, the council have told residents to contribute their thoughts on their recyclable waste disposal projects.

The council falls into the bottom half for all council recycling rates, with only 38% of waste being disposed of sustainably.

Speaking to ITV News, Swindon Councillor Maureen Penny admitted that putting plastic straight into regular waste bins would be a big change of recycling advice for residents.

"With advice from the National Audit Agency and the Environment Agency where we're not quite sure where our plastics end up, Swindon is making a very bold move to look at doing something different until we can get that market sorted out properly," she said.

Ms Penny explained the recyclable material would be dried out, sent to cement factories abroad and burned at a high temperature as an alternative to burning fossil fuels.

"Though we're not recycling the plastics, we're using it for energy rather than just piling it into the landfills."

525,000
Tonnes of plastic pots, tubs and trays are used by households every year

LGA statistic revealed that 525,000 tonnes of plastic pots, tubs and trays are used by households every year, but only 169,145 tonnes of this waste is able to be recycled properly.

With too many different types of plastic being used, even within the same products, it is becoming increasingly hard to get rid of this waste.

Plastic pollution in numbers

  • The world uses over 300 million tonnes of plastic a year
  • Less than half of plastic bottles used in the UK are recycled
  • Only 1/3 of UK waste actually gets recycled
  • Black plastic is made from so many different polymers that it is very difficult to recycle properly
  • Global plastic pollution is currently expected to triple by 2050
  • Over 40% of global plastic is single-use