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Will plastic pollution be a legacy of the pandemic?

Will plastic pollution be a legacy of the pandemic?

Health and hygiene has been a priority during the Coronavirus pandemic, but this has not always married well with reducing environmental waste: for example, just think of the number of discarded face masks, plastic gloves and aprons.

Another area that has been significantly impacted is the campaign around single use cups and with takeaway food and drink outlets feeling compelled to discourage the use of reusable cups. After years of incentivising customers to bring their own drinks containers, many coffee shops and cafes have changed their message, resulting in a massive rise in single use cups which are notoriously difficult to recycle.

A temporary return to single use plastic?

Although guidance states that reusable containers such as a coffee cups are Covid-safe for servers to handle as long as basic hygiene practice is followed, most outlets have opted to return temporarily to single use cups for simplicity and safety. However, as the hospitality industry opens up again, the impact of the pandemic on recycling levels has not gone unnoticed by the public.

Wednesday 16th June marked World Refill Day, organised by environmental enterprise City to Sea. The World Refill Day campaign aims to reduce plastic pollution by highlighting how people and businesses can make positive changes by using refill and reuse options when making purchases. The organisation also has a Refill app which has 200,000 refill stations logged globally making it easier for people to locate ecologically friendly refill outlets.

Pressure from the public

Alongside the campaign, City to Sea and Friends of the Earth released the results of a recent survey that revealed the general public’s concern around the rise in singe use products.

The survey, which was carried out in May 2021, found that people’s awareness around using refills is rising, with over 80% of respondents saying that they would like to see easy access to refillable products with the government making refillable products a central part of its strategy for tackling environmental damage caused by plastics.

Furthermore, almost three quarters of respondents think that plastic pollution is as bad or worse than before the pandemic, although 80% said that they are taking steps to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic. The most desired refill options were for items such as dried foods, laundry detergents and take-away coffee.

Finding a recycling solution

The environmental problems around single use cups is one of the reasons that Amberol developed their Café Bin in 2019. The multi-stream bin has three compartments: one for liquids, one for lids and one for the cup itself. The bin has a 90 litre capacity for cups, 10 litres for lids and 7 litres for liquids making it a great choice for shopping centres, leisure venues and anywhere with numerous take away food and drink outlets.

In addition, Amberol produce other recycling bins for indoor and outdoor use, including the popular Olympic Bin and Chatsworth Bin for dual recycling, as well as banks of bins such as the 240 litre capacity Eco Bin suitable for larger spaces and 100 litre capacity Slim Bin for recycling in areas where space is at a premium.

To find out more about the wide range of recycling bins available from Amberol, call 01773 830 930 or email sales@amberol.co.uk for more information about how Amberol bins can help you improve recycling rates in your area.

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