Recycling plastics…Did you know?
At a time when the message on recycling seems to be more powerful and well-communicated than ever, it is surprising to learn that we all still need to improve our recycling game.
Did you know?
Thousands of tonnes of plastic bottles and plastic waste still end up in landfills in 2017.
More plastic is produced and consumed daily than can actually be recycled.
Some EU countries, such as Holland and Germany, have banned the filling of landfills to reposition recycling priorities.
On average, each home in the UK will use 480 plastic bottles every year. But only 270 of these will be recycled – meaning that 44% do not make it to UK recycling and instead end up in landfill – where they can take several decades to break down! This means that almost 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being recycled in the UK every single day. Recycle Now – the green campaign body – has estimated that this could represent 29 billion bottles needlessly going to landfill in the four years leading up to December 2020.
To put that into context, Recycle Now have calculated that if just one year of the UK’s non-recycled bottles were placed in a line, they would circulate around the world a whopping 31 times – covering a distance of over 780,000 miles.
The effects of plastic on the earth are shocking, right?
What is the problem?
Awareness seems to be an ongoing problem, with householders often confused about which bottles can actually be recycled. Many do not know that shampoo, conditioner, empty bleach, hand soap dispenser and bathroom cleaner bottles can be recycled, along with plastic drinking bottles.
What needs to change?
There are plenty of solutions which can be trialled to see which resonate most with the public and have the greatest effect. In marketing, two versions of a campaign are tested – called A/B testing – to see which one is more successful and worth directing investments towards. Similarly, when it comes to recycling, the government has opportunities to trial different approaches on a pilot scale to see which will have the better effect.
Better access to plastic recycling facilities across the UK is the obvious option. Yes, we have our plastic recycling waste bins at home, but many of us will drink from plastic bottles when we are out and about and fail to find adequately signposted and available bottle recycle facilities to hand. It seems crazy that we have to carry our empty water bottles home to recycle them.
Increased awareness about the types of plastic material that can be recycled must improve. For example, consumers are unsure about whether they can recycle plastic bottle lids (they can). Councils can do more to raise awareness on how to improve and prioritise recycling and incentivise households to recycle with a more direct approach.
New material types and better plastics need to be invested in and rolled out – bio plastics that rapidly degrade are already being used in carrier bags, and the government could certainly look at grants and incentives to encourage further innovation in this field as part of broader strategies to move to a sustainable, zero-waste economy.
Cultural aspects are also key
Consumers are starting to ask more questions about products and packaging it is sold in. The zero-waste movement is gaining traction as a means of ‘living smart’ and ‘living green’ and conscious consumers of the eco-warrior movement are proud to say no to plastics.
The more that the cultural currency of the ‘green’ life can be shared and made fashionable and attractive, the more likely people are to adopt it. When millennial high-street designers sell recycled tote bags and t-shirts that share a passion for eco living, for example, this sends out a powerful message to younger consumers in particular about the value of living a more eco-friendly life.
Education remains key too at school level and above. Children are often highly aware of the issues around environmentalism and the need to protect the planet and the animals – so there are obvious gains to encouraging children to act as the custodians of their family’s plastic bottle waste, and incentivising them to improve rates by family – with games, challenges and rewards.
Small Changes make a Big Difference… a little note to all our lovely readers…
We value the environment and we know you do too. So, through ecoBip, we have been thinking carefully about what we can do to encourage greener changes and eco-consciousness to all of our viewers.
Here are 3 Recycling Links you may find useful;
- The Process of Recycling
- The Top 10 Most Important Items to Recycle
- Plastic Types – Are some really better than others
Learn about Plastic Free July, whatever the weather.
We are took part in #plasticfreejuly, a 1 month long campaign, bringing awareness all year round to the problem of plastic consumption, the danger of single use plastics and how best to avoid them.
For more information on the campaign, it’s legacy and it’s success, please visit the website, Plastic Free July.