We are all aware of the impact plastic is having on the environment, from the devastating images brought to light by Blue Planet II, to the banning of mixed plastic for recycling in China as well as increased public awareness and media coverage.
It is essential that we dispose of the plastics we do use in the right place to avoid it harming the environment and even better - what can we do to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives?
Cutting Down on Plastic
You don’t need to worry about completely removing plastic from your life! Some plastic packaging can be really useful and even help reduce waste because it keeps food fresher for longer. But there are lots of changes we can all make to cut out needless plastic – especially single-use disposable plastics.
Here are our top ten tips to help you on your way.
Remember small steps add up – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
And if you need more of a challenge you can move on to our checklist
After reducing and reusing your plastic, make sure you recycle what you can to make the most of these valuable resources. In Suffolk we are lucky that we can recycle a wide range of plastics in our recycling bin at home (bottles, tubs, trays), and an even wider range of plastics at our Recycling Centres (carrier bags, film and hard plastics such as toys, plant pots and garden furniture). Don’t worry about what the labels say on the packaging itself – just follow our plastic recycling guide!
Plastic in the environment
Shockingly, it is estimated that 79% of all plastic waste ever produced is still present in the environment today. Remember, if you can’t find a bin on the high street then please take rubbish home to recycle instead. It goes without saying that it’s a bad idea to throw litter on the ground (and could lead to a fine!). Many people take a step further by joining in a community litter pick in their area. Or just remember to carry an old bag in your pocket ready to pick up any litter (if it’s safe to do so) when out for a walk.
Other types of plastics?
Degradable, bio-degradable, bio-plastics, compostable plastic…what’s best? Well it’s a bit complicated! Be wary about making the change to “bio” or “compostable” plastics as they might not necessarily provide the best solution for you unless you have the right disposal route.
Degradable plastic simply means it breaks into little pieces of plastic which can be very damaging to the environment. It can’t be recycled so need to be placed in your rubbish bin.
Bio-plastics are made from renewable sources such as corn starch and sugar cane. Biodegradable plastic may be made from fossil fuels or renewable sources which breaks down in nature, but there is no timeframe for the decomposition to take place. Neither of these plastics are suitable for recycling or composting in Suffolk so would need to be placed in your rubbish bin.
Compostable plastic can only be composted in your own garden at home in Suffolk (but may take some time to break down) and cannot be put in your garden waste collection. It can’t be recycled because it is too unstable and if you are not composting at home should be disposed of in your rubbish bin.
Spread the word
Enjoy the feel-good-factor of knowing that you have helped protect planet Earth by taking one more step 😊 But don’t keep it to yourself, tell your friends, family and colleagues! They may even appreciate a re-usable bottle/cup/straw/lunchbox for their next birthday!
If you get frustrated by your supermarket packaging, your school or workplace canteen, or your pub using straws – why not tell them? The customer is always right and together it may make them look for alternatives to offer you in the future. With Iceland promising a plastic free aisle in the future, who will be next?