The problem with plastic – why recycling isn’t the answer?

I was emailed a copy of the front of the Mirror this week by one of our
supporters, with the headline ‘Tons of plastic waste put in UK recycling bins
illegally dumped and burnt in Turkey’

This comes up regularly, last time is was when China banned plastic exports.
Sadly the EU have put bans in place around exporting recyclables which the UK
government have not as yet followed, although they say they will.

If you live in Cheshire West I have an answer to the question as to whether
any of your waste will be heading off to Turkey. If you live elsewhere ask your
local authority.

BUT putting lots of single use plastic into your recycling and expecting it
all to be recycled isn’t going to be the case. We cannot recycle our way our of
the plastic problem. We MUST reduce our use of single use
plastic and stop businesses using this option at source. This is why
when you see this. 

We are still only recycling about 9% of plastic waste, you can only recycle
most types of plastic a handful of times before it degrades. PET (those hard
soda bottles) can be recycled more, but still only around 10 times. So we can’t
just keep producing plastic to be used once otherwise the waste mountain just
gets bigger and bigger. In comparison aluminium and glass are much more easy to
recycle and can be recycled more often.

So the goal here isn’t just about the UK banning the export of our
recyclables, but also business and individuals need to reduce our reliance on
this product for packaging.

I am assured by Cheshire West that the region does not ship any pre-processed
plastic waste abroad. Cheshire West Recycling manage the collection and
recycling of the plastics from the kerbside recycling scheme. The Council owned
company work with a number of UK Re-processors who sort the material by polymer
type. All recycling processors are regulated by the Environment Agency, and
approved by CWAC.

Processors shred/flake, hot chemical wash and compound (re-melt) the plastic
back into a recyclable pellet to be made back into either sheets or blown
packaging. The processed plastic may then be exported to other
countries where they are used for the production of new plastic products.

This is why in 2018 we worked to achieve Plastic Free Chester and encourage
the council to do more and why we keep campaigning to reduce single use
plastic, to get the council to take recyclables from street litter and help
more areas of Cheshire West archive Plastic Free Community status.

Read more on CWAC and Plastic Free – CLICK

Read more about Plastic Free Cheshire – CLICK

Published by plasticfreenorthener

I’m a partner and Ethical Financial Adviser, I’m Director of Eco Community UK Community Interest Company which I set up to help individuals and businesses be more sustainable.

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