Plastic Recycling Shambles
That’s right, the only current sustainable option if we choose to use plastics is in shambles,
as pointed out by the Environment Minister Michael Gove.
Are you aware that:
- Of the 1.5m tonnes of recyclable plastic waste used by consumers in Britain in 2015 only 500,000 tonnes was recycled, according to the figures compiled by Co-op from the Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection survey. Only a third of plastic packaging used in consumer products is recycled each year, with almost two-thirds sent to landfill or incinerated.
- Packaging contributes about 58% of the plastic waste generation during the year 2000 (Waste Watch 2003).
- China has banned the imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste, causing a build up of rubbish at recycling plants around the UK.
Plastic production increased markedly over the last 60 years as plastic is inexpensive, lightweight, durable and can be readily moulded into a variety of products for a wide range of applications. Around 4 per cent of world oil and gas production, a non-renewable resource, is used as feedstock for plastics and a further 3–4% is expended to provide energy for their manufactureRecycling is the only current sustainable option available to reduce this negative environmental impact of accumulation of plastic mountains in landfills and our oceans.
BUT plastic recycling is neither easy nor currently sustainable!
Plastic recycling has been around since the 1970s. How then did we land up with the plastic tide?
Check these facts:
- Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, but the extent to which they are depends on the technology available in your local council. Most councils in the UK recycle only plastic bottles as these are heavier than most other plastics and therefore relatively easy to sort.
- There are more than 50 different types of plastics, making it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other materials.
- Often packaging can consist of more than one polymer type, which makes it more difficult to recycle.
- Plastic Pariahs
Furthermore, most of us are clueless as to what household waste can be recycled. We do not really understand our waste! There are many materials that we do not know if they count as recyclable or not. If the recyclable waste does not get into the right bin, it will end up in the landfill! Bottles that have the wrong type of plastic, or a tiny bit of drink residue, are likely to be rejected as well.
Switch to Sustainable Alternatives
Just as plastics straws, drink stirrers and cotton swabs could be banned in England under plans proposed by the UK government to reduce plastic waste and protect the world's oceans, we should move over to biodegradable/compostable packaging, such as Element tableware which is made from corn starch and 100% biodegradable.
Biodegradable packaging is a simple sustainable solution as it need not be recycled and hence eliminates the chance of landing in the wrong recycling bin and facility (note: most recyclable foodware becomes contaminated once it has food scrapping).
Element tableware can instead be disposed off as eco-friendly food waste to biodegrade under the right environment within 120 days. When micro-organism ingests and digests the starch aspect of the product, the polypropylene (PP) content in origo that is assimilated with the corn is fully broken down into compost after 90 days even if it lands in the landfill and produces a non-toxic humus waste that can be used as fertilizers.