A vast amount of rubbish is still dumped in landfill sites across the country, and some of it is toxic and harmful to the environment, or in the case of something like plastic, takes up to 500 years to fully decompose. One solution is to recycle, and the national government have been very proactive in this area, setting minimum recycling targets for all councils to achieve.
Plastic is one of the key items highlighted in government and local council campaigns, which is hardly surprising given how the figures stack up for plastic usage and recycling. The recycling guide reports that around 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used by people in the UK each year, while a household could throw away as much as 40 Kg of recyclable plastic. So what’s being done to combat this problem, and what are the options for recycling plastic?
Along with encouraging the use of long-life or decomposable jute bags for shopping, some retailers, particularly supermarkets, have set up plastic bag recycling points for customers. You’ll also find smaller recycling points in many high streets, so if you’ve had a drink while you’ve been shopping, or on your lunch break, then you can just put the plastic bottles in the recycling bins, and do your bit to help the environment. If you have larger amounts of plastic at home, you could also find out from your council where your nearest recycling points are, and dispose of your plastic that way.
It’s local councils that really lead the way with plastic recycling though, encouraging businesses to recycle more packaging, and organising recycling collections for householders. Families can fill their plastic recycling sacks with everything from household cleaner and medicine bottles, to plastic takeaway containers, and tetra pak drinks cartons. Councils will normally provide guidelines on what they can accept for recycling, and a schedule of collections, along with (in some cases, bags to put your plastic in.
Once the plastic has been collected and bypassed landfill, the story gets more interesting , as the plastic collected will be reprocessed and turned into something new. Plastic bottles are often recycled to make brand new food and drink packaging, while other types of plastic can be turned into a wide variety of products. This includes office equipment like ring binders, toys, window frames, street signage, and sustainable building materials.
Along with the initial benefits of recycling plastic instead of dumping it in landfill, there are other positive elements to recycling plastic. If you look at recycled plastic building materials as an example, you’ll find the products will last a lot longer than traditional timber, are easy to maintain, and are resistant to anything from insects to graffiti. A reduction in energy consumption, and chemical emissions, are other benefits of recycling plastic.
Plastic recycling is something everyone can easily play a part in, whether you are a business or a householder. Just think, something as simple as putting your plastic bottles out for collection can have multiple environmental benefits.