As 2019 dawns after all the media coverage of the plastic issue in 2018 then we all must look at the waste we produce - only then will we understand what needs to change.
As luck would have it back in January 2018 seeing all the plastic film I appeared to generate that couldn't be recycled I decided to collect all of this plastic over the period of the year - limiting it mainly to outer wrappers on many products which either showed no recycling information or claimed the material could not currently be recycled.
As 2019 then dawned how much waste material had I gathered from myself and my family of cats?
ALMOST A BATH TUB FULL !
A blend mainly of chocolate bar outers, biscuit packs, oven chip packaging and cat food outers along with some clear vegetable packaging I was struck by a few things. Firstly I eat to much chocolate - but then really I always knew that but more importantly how little of this material is recyclable - or even marked with any recycling information.
Sorting through the waste was quite an insight - if it was a chocolate bar outer it almost always carried no recycling information.
This led to me sorting out a whole bin bag full of wrappers displaying no recycling info
How could it be that in 2018 such big name producers of chocolate products as Nestle, Cadbury and Mars could get away with this?
There was one or two glimmers of hope as it became clear some of the waste - some biscuit wrappers and chocolate bar wrappers marketed by the likes of Mcvities could potentially be recycled if they were sent to a business called Terracycle - which specialises in recycling hard to recycle products which cannot be recycled at the kerbside - but even with Terracycle it is not an ideal situation to have to create waste to recycle waste - by shipping waste back to Terracycle.
This then also left me with a collection of rather stretchy plastic film packaging that looked very much like LDPE plastic - but even though it LOOKED like it once again the packaging either said nothing about recyclability or stated it wasn't currently recycled.
Much of this waste was found to be Sainsburys home brand products - all stretchy plastics but all claiming not currently recycled.
It was time to investigate - and I didn't have to look far to be able to confirm that yes that stretchy plastic that kind of looked like LDPE plastic WAS LDPE plastic - and so could actually be recycled at supermarket carrier bag recycling points. But why market products in your stores which CAN be recycled and then not show this on the packaging?
Other big brand similar products also displaying either questionable recycling information or no information marketed by McCains (oven chips), Aunt Bessies (oven chips) and Butchers Pet Care (outer cling wrap on multi pack cat food) have all now been confirmed by the manufacturers as also being LDPE so yet more waste I thought was not recyclable will be going to a supermarket recycling point soon - lets empty the bath!
But just like a bath tub there is an issue with recycling plastic film that's left me feeling a bit drained!
A number of waste management companies now claim that there is no market for plastic film - even if collected for recycling.
How can we be in a position where it is considered better to make plastic film from new raw materials than to recycle waste plastic back into new replacement products?
Then we wonder why so much waste goes to landfill and incineration!
©SIMON BACON 2019