We are seeing the big supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys make big promises with Asda committing themselves to using 30% recycled content across all own brand plastic packaging by 2020. Sainsburys announced on 18th February that they are trialling a new recycling system that will allow (PP) to be recycled at 63 stores in the North-east. By far the most impressive is Tesco who have successfully and permanently removed one billion pieces of plastic by implementing the 4Rs, To remove it where it can, reduce where it can't, reuse more and recycle what is left. It is evident that supermarkets are doing what they can to turn things around, we can still be doing something ourselves and play a part in tackling the plastic crisis.
Now it is our turn and understandably it can be difficult to know what can be recycled and what can’t, and when it comes to plastic, did you know there is more than one type? The most used recyclable plastics are Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) – water bottles and plastic trays, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – milk cartoons and shampoo bottles and Polypropylene (PP) – margarine tubs and ready-meal trays.
To make recycling as easy as possible each type of plastic will have a number inside a triangle on the packaging indicating its resin ID. In simple terms: the lower the number, the more recyclable it is:
Once you know this, it is such a simple habit to adopt. As a rule of thumb 1, 2 and 3 are always recyclable and 4 upwards, check on your local authority website as every council has different processing machines and methods of recycling. If you are guilty of having an empty recycling bin and a full rubbish bin, here are just a few sobering facts highlighting the consequences of our plastic consumption:
The realisation of these facts should be enough for us all to exercise change in our daily lives, if not for ourselves then for the marine life that is in danger as a direct result and our children and grandchildren.
The most endangered species are fish and any marine life that takes in water through their gills. Plastic breaks down in very small particles and these are ingested by sea life making them very ill. Many animals get tangled in our litter, it can leak harmful chemicals into their body, not to mention what having a piece of plastic inside you can do physically. This has been 60 years in the making with a long-term effect that may never go away.
Doing your bit is not just about recycling, there are many ways you can help, and it isn’t all about plastic:
I am very passionate about the environment and if I can instil a bit of the fire in my belly in others I will try. We need to respect where we live and stop being a throwaway society because the world is on its knees and it is a beautiful place and a beautiful home. If you get that sinking feeling when you see oceans full of plastic and sea life trapped in plastic and fishing nets, you can do something. If your heart wants to burst at the sight of animals living happily or little children picking up litter 🚮, you can do something. Be the change you want to see really does work!
I believe more can be done about the plastic problem such as going back to basics and using glass jars, paper, card, etc. There are many people fighting for manufacturers to stop using virgin materials and use 100% recycled material, but the big problem is not only the industries producing plastic but consumers. We as consumers live in a throwaway society and it would be very hard to change that. Research shows many of us still think It is too much fuss to have a re-usable bottle/coffee cup, or to keep carrier bags with us at all times. But if you could save yourself some money at the same time it is worth it. Costa and Starbucks currently offer a 25p discount on coffee purchases using a re-usable cup, Greggs offers 20p and Café Nero offers a double stamp on your rewards card. 🥤
It comes down to convenience and an easy life. In short as consumers we have to make small changes, and the manufacturers have to make changes but their changes will take longer to implement but possibly have a much bigger impact.
If you are conscious about not recycling enough and want to make an informed change, then why not start today? Cleanse the environment and at the same time cleanse your soul.
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/3kX0eHr
- Robert Swan OBE