Recycle Week 2018 – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Recycling and Protecting the Environment

This week (September 24 – 30) in the UK is Recycle Week, which is a national event dedicated to reminding UK citizens the importance of recycling and protecting the environment. Now in its 15th year, the theme for this year’s event is ‘Recycling. We do. Because it matters.’plastic bottles and recyling

Recycle Week is organised by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (which operates as WRAP), under the Recycle Now brand. WRAP is a charity that helps individuals, businesses and communities achieve greater resource efficiency, reduce waste and develop sustainable products.

According to WRAP, this year’s theme provides an opportunity to attract attention and communicate a ‘simple but important message’ about why recycling is important, not only to businesses but within the household too.

Recycling Plastic Is Important

Plastic has increased in prominence in recent years. In fact, we now use around 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. However, plastic is a major problem for the environment as most plastics aren’t biodegradable, meaning they aren’t capable of decomposing naturally through exposure to microorganisms.

As a result, plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose. That’s why handling it responsibly and properly once it becomes waste is of critical importance.

In the UK alone, it’s estimated that around 35.8 million plastic bottles are used every day across the UK. Although a large proportion of these plastic bottles (19.8 million) are getting recycled, there remains a large number that are not put in the recycling bin. Recycle Now estimates this to be around 16 million plastic bottles a day.

Plastic Waste Sent Straight to Landfill

But, what happens to the plastic waste that doesn’t get recycled?

From plastic bottles and carrier bags to plastic tubs and cartons, in the EU its estimated that around one-third of all plastic waste is sent straight to landfill. To make matters worse, millions of tons of this ends up in the ocean every year.

Not only does this pose an immediate threat to wildlife, but also longer-term risks to ecosystems and the environment. That’s because over time large pieces of plastic fragment into smaller particles called microplastics.

These microplastics often go undetected and are extremely damaging to ecosystems. They soak up chemical additives and endocrine disruptors. When they are consumed they can enter the food chain, posing a threat to human health.

Plastic waste is a global problem, which is only going to get worse if we don’t take action.plastic bottles and reducing waste

What You Can Do Within the Household and the Workplace – ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’

In the household and the workplace, there are many things that can be done to reduce plastic waste.

In regard to reducing plastic waste, you can

In regard to reusing plastic waste, you can

For recycling in the household and workplace, you can

Businesses Have a Major Role to Play

So, there are many things that can be done on an individual level that can have a big impact on plastic waste. However, businesses of all sizes also have a pivotal role to play in tackling the plastic waste problem. Especially considering that UK supermarkets alone generate more than 800,000 tons of plastic packaging waste a year, according to The Guardian.

Businesses can start to tackle the plastic waste problem by removing any unnecessary packaging from their products. At the same time, addressing the initial design of products so that all packaging can be recycled, composted or reused is key.

UK Plastics Act 2018UK Plastic Pact 2018

Many companies are already taking great strides and are leading the way in fighting back against plastic pollution. In April 2018 more than 40 companies signed up to WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, which aims to drastically cut plastic waste over the next seven years in the UK.

Companies including Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, Mars, Marks & Spencer, Nestlé and many more have committed to a number of pledges, including eliminating unnecessary single-use packaging through better design and innovation.

Other pledges include 70% of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted after use and a 30% rate of average recycled content used in plastic containers.

Can More Be Done?

Although the Plastic Pact is a great step towards reducing plastic waste, it has faced criticism due to the voluntary nature of the act. Because it’s voluntary there are no guarantees that the targets will be met.

Environmental groups say that more radical action is needed by the government and businesses to tackle the plastic packaging problem.

Although the UK government recently announced the ban of plastic straws and cotton buds, campaigners claim this is not enough. Instead of voluntary action, campaigners argue that we should be transitioning towards a complete ban on all single-use plastic by 2025.

Looking to the Future

Plastic waste is a problem we can solve and need to solve now. However, it’s going to be a difficult road ahead.

The fact that governments and companies are taking notice and addressing the issue is a positive start.

However, we as individuals also have a fundamental role to play in recycling efforts – ensuring that we are reducing, reusing and recycling where we can.

Contact HPS

Please let us know your thoughts about plastic waste, recycling and the environment! What do you do about it? Do you have any tips for us as well?

HPS specialises in helping companies that process liquids reduce waste, increase yields and improve their environmental sustainability. This is through product recovery (pipeline pigging) and liquid transfer technology. If you would like to speak to one of our technical team about your upcoming project, please send us a message using the form below:

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