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‘Infinitely’ recyclable plastic created by chemists for first time

A new type of plastic has been invented by a team of chemists at Colorado State University, which they say can theoretically be recycled “infinitely”. While plastics are incredibly useful, their impact on the environment has become increasingly clear in recent years, and current plastic recycling is thought to be inadequate. The material created by Professor Eugene Chen has many of the same characteristics of everyday plastics, including strength, durability and heat resistance. However, unlike conventional plastics it can be converted back to the molecules that form its building blocks with ease. "The polymers can be chemically recycled and reused, in principle, infinitely," said Professor Chen. "It would be our dream to see this chemically recyclable polymer technology materialise in the marketplace.” Their findings were published in the journal Science. Orginal Source

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Waitrose steps up action to remove plastic bags

Waitrose & Partners is to remove traditional plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables and 5p single-use plastic bags from its stores by next spring. The supermarket said the move would cut 134m plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year. The fruit and vegetable bags will be replaced by a home compostable alternative, derived from corn starch, which the retailer said would look and feel similar to the current ones and could be placed in food waste caddies or broken down in landfill if put in a normal bin. Friends of the Earth welcomed the retailer’s attempt to reduce its plastic footprint but expressed doubt that compostable bags were the answer. Emma Priestland, a plastics campaigner at the environmental group, said: “It’s good to see big companies like Waitrose looking for ways to reduce the plastic in their stores. But compostable, bio-based bags aren’t necessarily the gold-star solution they first appear. This is a case of swapping one kind of single-use plastic for another, when actually removing the packaging entirely would be the best option. The 5p bags will be removed from six shops: Saxmundham, Gerrards Cross, Keynsham, Dorking, Newark and East Putney, from 8 October to help ensure a smooth changeover before Waitrose & Partners phases them out elsewhere later in the year. Waitrose & Partners has started to remove all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its shops; they have gone from more than 300 of its 348 stores. Waitrose & Partners has also already pledged not to sell any own-label food in black plastic beyond 2019 and to make all of its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025. Orginal Source

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Tax Changes Could Boost Recycling Infrastructure

Chancellor Philip Hammond said more than 162,000 responses were received for the department’s call for evidence on plastic waste, showing “an extraordinary” level of public interest. He has published a summary of responses and proposed Government actions in Tackling the Plastic Problem. Treasury officials said will examine ideas raised including using the tax system to shift demand towards using recycled plastic in manufacturing, encouraging more sustainable design, reducing demand for single-use plastic items and an incineration tax. The Treasury said some respondents felt that including waste exported for recycling within UK performance measures, “further discourages investment in recycling capacity”, while recyclers, in particular, suggested that packaging recovery notes (PRNs) and PERNs having equal value “encouraged the export of waste for recycling”. They called instead for a tax on exported waste to support domestic recycling. There was also support for using tax to change the relative value of virgin and recycled polymers, to increase demand for the latter and encourage and expansion of recycling capacity. Public backing for proposals to combat single-use plastic waste could lead to the Treasury implementing a tax on virgin polymers and exported waste in order to stimulate the market in secondary materials. Orginal Source

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More than 25% of UK households don't know what energy tariff they have

More than a quarter of households do not know if they are on the most expensive standard variable tariffs (SVTs) for gas and electricity and around one in 20 do not know who supplies their energy, a survey suggests. The poll for Bulb Energy found 6 per cent of people do not know who their supplier is, while 28 per cent either do not know or are not sure if their household is on a poor-value standard tariff. This figure rises to 53 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds, while a relatively low 16 per cent of 55- to 74-year-olds are in the same position. The poll also suggests that households may be confused over whether they have switched away from SVT tariffs. Some 44 per cent said they had switched in the past year, but Bulb cited industry body Energy UK figures showing that 22 per cent of the UK’s 27.1 million households switched last year. Bulb said it was surprised that half of the “most technically savvy generation” appeared not to know what type of tariff they were on, but said this could be due to 18- to 24-year-olds typically renting accommodation and mistakenly believing they were unable to switch, or inheriting prepayment meters at properties that often carry restrictions on switching. Orginal Source

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Public Back Tax on Single-use Plastics

Its recent call to evidence on how tax can reduce plastic waste attracted 162,000 responses, the highest in the Treasury’s history. New measures could include a “latte levy” on single-use coffee cups, discouraging difficult to recycle plastics such as black plastic and a greater use of recycled plastics over virgin in the manufacturing process. Changes are likely to be announced at this year’s Budget in Autumn. Robert Jenrick, the exchequer secretary, said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the public support and the responses we’ve received will be invaluable as we develop our plans for using the tax system to combat this. “Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities and we know the public is right behind us.” Bodies such as the ESA have vowed to work with the Treasury in developing a new policy measures. Jacob Hayler, ESA executive director, said: “A plastic tax will have the biggest impact when it is aimed at production and manufacturing and we are pleased to see that the Treasury is looking at how to encourage greater use of recycled plastic at the start of the waste cycle.” Orginal Source

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The UK’s largest recycling plant for construction and demolition waste has opened in West Lothian.

The West Lothian plant will provide waste management services and recycled aggregates to builders, construction companies and contractors. The company said it expected an annual turnover of £3 million at the plant and further job opportunities on top of the 20 roles retained from previous owner Henry Gillies Brewster Bros’ director, Scott Brewster, said the facility was “the UK’s largest” of its kind. He said: “Our number one aim is to treat and recycle construction and demolition waste as a resource, ensuring zero waste to landfill. “Through significant investment into state-of-the-art recycling techniques provided by the plant supplier CDE, we are looking forward to shaping the future of the recycling industry across Scotland and beyond. “This new plant should act as a game-changer for the construction industry, by saving money for our customers and ensuring they can dispose of their construction and demolition waste in a cost-effective and sustainable way.” Stephen Boyle, from Zero Waste Scotland, said: “In Scotland the construction sector is responsible for producing nearly half of the country’s waste and recycling construction and demolition material has a key role to play in minimising that. “By recycling, we can keep materials out of landfill and in high-value use for longer, reducing the need to quarry finite virgin material and helping the environment." Orginal Source