Firm plays leading role in recycling thousands of tonnes of plastic

An illustration of the circular economy in Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

An illustration of the circular economy in Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon-based packaging firm Charpak is playing a key part in a recycling campaign which has seen 1,000 tonnes of Cambridgeshire’s plastic waste being reused.

More than eight million pieces of packaging have been made out of recycled material in the last six months with the aid of the county's residents.

At the beginning of the year family-owned Charpak signed up to a UK first in an initiative launched with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership (RECAP), which involves the collection of plastic waste from across Cambridgeshire which is then sorted, cleaned and remanufactured into new products which can be recycled again and again.

During its first six months in operation more than 200 truckloads of plastic waste has been collected, involving more than 1,500 tonnes of material, most of which has been reprocessed in the UK, with 215 tonnes going to Charpak to make new packaging.

Award-winning Charpak has taken an innovative approach to recycling in its design and manufacture of lightweight, reusable rigid plastic packaging products used by the high-end gift, food and automotive industries, among many others.

Its collaboration with RECAP, set up in January, was the UK's first localised circular economy. Charpak's products are designed for recyclability and more than 70 per cent of the packaging can be recycled within the UK.

In total 1,000 tonnes of plastic waste collected in the county has been reused by packaging manufacturers across the UK.

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Cllr Bill Handley, chairman of the RECAP board, said: "Our residents already do a brilliant job at recycling - 55 per cent of waste in Cambridgeshire is recycled but there is always room to improve.

"It is clear that residents want to do the right thing and I get a high number of e-mails on the subject. Our message during Recycle Week was to help residents understand how we can make sure even more material is reused by putting more of what can be recycled in their recycling bin or taken along to household recycling centres and keeping things that can't be recycled out."

Charpak managing director Paul Smith said: "We would ideally use all the recovered material. We ask for such high quality, our re-processors have needed to share the remainder of the recycled material with other packaging manufacturers.

"1,000 tonnes of existing recycled material has been reused to make packaging, all within the UK. That means it's not waste, it's reusing valuable existing material and reduces the amount of new plastic that needs to be made."

He added: "Already saving over 200 refuse trucks from landfill and disposal in Cambridgeshire alone, imagine what could be achieved nationwide to reduce plastic waste when more people recycle more and recycle right."