A material known as plastic aluminium laminate, made from a combination of plastic and metal, is used in approximately 160,000 tons of packaging material in the UK each year. The product which is used for packaging a wide range of products, including food and drinks, pet food, and cosmetics, has become popular due to its lightness, flexibility, cost efficiency, and ability to provide environmentally friendly production. Despite its benefits, the metal in this material makes it difficult to recycle and contributes to the thousands of tons of waste that end up in landfills each year. 

To help solve this problem, Recycling company, Enval has developed a new plastic waste recycling technology that recovers aluminium content. Unlike conventional plastic waste recycling methods, the new process incorporates a large microwave oven that is heated up to 600 degrees. The plastic-aluminium laminate is broken down before moving through the microwave where it becomes gas that is then used to power the recycling plant, or converted into oil and sold. This process frees the aluminium from the plastic so it can be reused. 

Although this innovative recycling method is effective, it can be difficult to put new technologies into place due to cost issues and long-standing contracts. A spokesperson from Keep Britain Tidy, Allison Ogden-Newton, has suggested that the new technologies could be introduced once contacts are reviewed, but that manufacturers should be encouraged to use materials that are easier to recycle, such as single grade plastic or cardboard.

With only 50% of plastic packaging actually being recycled, manufacturers should be discouraged from using complex materials that are difficult to recycle, could crowd landfills, or contaminate oceans.

There are also many ways that consumers can help influence manufacturers to help reduce the impact their products have on the planet. Encouraging brands to develop recyclable packaging for their products and taking initiative to ensure your plastic packaging makes it to the recycling bin are a few ways. Other ways to do this could include buying loose fruit and vegetables to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that is discarded, and avoiding plastic straws as they can have a devastating effect on marine wildlife.