The war on plastic waste – winning the battles will bring victory
At Fylde Recycling Services, we obviously have a vested and moral interest in recycling correctly, reducing landfill and protecting the environment. It was encouraging, therefore, to learn earlier this month, that the number of plastic bags found on the UK’s seabed is in decline. The 25 year research project by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), observed sharp declines in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets compared to 2010.
However, the overall amount of litter has remained the same with widespread distribution of other plastic litter items being found on the seabed of the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea and Irish Sea. The solution to the problem is not quite in the bag yet then!
Whilst homeowners are repeatedly told of the importance of recycling their plastic, further down the line there are considerable obstacles in the way of progress. The ban on imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste by the Chinese government came into effect on 1st January this year, but it is believed that many UK recycling businesses stopped shipping plastic to China in the autumn, fearing it might not arrive before the deadline.
British companies have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012. According to Greenpeace this accounts for two-thirds of the UK’s total plastic waste exports. So, while we’re all diligently recycling at home, what will the impact of this ban be, and is it still worth recycling?
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove’s infamous response of “I don’t know what impact it will have” is indicative of the complexity involved in assessing and resolving the issue. While recycling companies are reporting lower-grade plastics piling up in their yards, however, as a society we need to be more proactive in how we use and dispose of plastic.
What can we do to reduce plastic waste?
There are many ways in which we, the general public, can have a positive impact on the reduction of plastic waste, some of which involves avoiding producing it in the first place:
- Say no to plastic straws in your drinks, or encourage your favoured hostelry to use paper straws instead
- Reuse water bottles multiple times – reassure your children that they won’t be struck down by some rare disease if they do this
- Get your milk delivered in bottles! Imagine that…
- Replace sandwich bags and cling film with containers that will be used over and over again
- Invest in a reusable coffee cup – imagine how trendy you could look carrying that to work
- Bypass the frozen food section in the supermarket with all its excessive plastic packaging
- Buy products in boxes rather than plastic bottles wherever possible, such as washing detergent. Cardboard is much easier to recycle
- Use matches instead of plastic lighters
This is just a snapshot of what you can do to help. Don’t be side-tracked from your eco warrior status by the ineptitude of a society that should have seen the global plastic scandal coming light-years ago. Your contribution does make a huge difference.
You’ve recycled your plastic. What next?
Your plastic waste will be collected by your council, but if you have large quantities, Fylde Recycling Services will be happy to help you dispose of it ethically and efficiently, along with all other types of recycling. Please contact us if you’d like some more information.