Using plastic the smart way
Thanks to the footage of our plastic-blighted oceans in Blue Planet II, there is now an increased awareness of the need to use less plastic and to recycle the plastic we do use. While it’s not feasible to eliminate plastic altogether, there is lots we can do to use it more wisely. At Amberol, we are pleased that our wide range of indoor and outdoor recycling bins can help people easily recycle single-use plastic when they’re out and about.
Binning black plastic to reduce landfill
At the beginning of June, Waitrose announced that it is three-quarters of the way towards hitting its target of eliminating black plastic packaging from its meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetable products. The issue with black plastic is that the lasers used in waste processing plants can’t recognise it to sort for recycling so it inevitably ends up in landfill. Waitrose’s innovations include trialling new cream-coloured trays made of coated wood fibre for one of its popular ready meals. While sometimes using black plastic is unavoidable, consumers can make a difference by avoiding it where alternatives are available.
Plastic playtime as schools get into recycling
At Amberol, we’re always glad to hear about new and imaginative initiatives for recycled plastic, so we were intrigued to hear about a national competition for primary schools to win a sustainable playground entirely constructed from recycled plastic, courtesy of Febreze, TerraCycle and Tesco. The winning school, Wooler First School in Northumberland’s new playground is constructed mainly from kerbside waste including milk bottles, drinks bottles, plastic food trays and containers. It’s hoped that as well as many years of enjoyment, the playground will foster a new awareness of the importance of recycling among Wooler’s youngest residents.
Plastic and food waste
Although a plastic problem undoubtedly exists, it’s important to remember that plastic does still have a role to play when used responsibly. Writing in Packaging Today this May, Gary Bulcalter, innovations director at food packaging company, RPC bpi protec points out that unlike paper, the manufacture of plastic is not energy intensive. Not only that, plastic packaging is now lighter and more compact than ever, which helps to reduce carbon emissions during transportation. Also, plastic has an important role in reducing food waste by extending the shelf-life of foods.
Bulcater also notes that due to its less obvious impact on the environment, many people fail to recognise the massive environmental impact of solid food waste. Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations show that consumers waste an average of 100kg of food each a year, with 250km3 of water used to produce that wasted food - equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
Thinking it through and recycling wisely
Those of us who care about the environment can make a difference by tweaking our day-to-day habits. Making an effort not to overbuy or cook too much food is a great start, and if that food is packaged with less plastic, in particular black plastic, so much the better. We can also all do our bit by making small changes like using reusable water bottles when we’re out and about and recycling the plastic we do use in recycling bins both at home and as we go about our daily business.