A common theme in 2018 so far seems to revolve around eliminating our dependency on single use disposables and plastics. Often this seems to be done at a policy maker’s level without enough thought as to the implementation.
We’ve written several articles promoting the benefits of correct sortation and recycling of disposables. Rather than the blanket “ban x product from the shelf” style statements that seem so commonplace, we could drastically reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfill by simply improving sortation and recycling facilities to allow the waste to be processed.
It’s true that our reliance on disposables can be reduced to some extent, but there will always be a demand for the items (hygiene grounds within the NHS for example). Nearly all plastics are easily processed if sent to the correct facility without contamination.
Evian is an example of a company investing in better recycling facilities and looking to promote a more sustainable use of plastics, bottles in this instance. Their aim is for all plastic bottles to be made from recycled plastics by 2020. Evian is working with governments and waste processors to secure a sufficient supply of recycled plastics to accomplish this. More details at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/sponsor-content-changing-the-way-we-think-about-plastics/
Hopefully other similar companies will follow suit and get behind plastic recycling schemes.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, disposables and single-use plastics are very much in the media spotlight at the moment. Much of this started after the airing of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 in late 2017. This highlighted the environmental impact of plastics / microplastics and waste dumping on our oceans and their associated inhabitants.
Above all the series got people thinking about where their packaging goes after disposal. The public has started to question when they choose to use disposables and ask how the material is handled after we’ve finished with it. This has in-turn put pressure on high profile volume users of disposables to look at the way they handle their disposable waste.
In the news today are the results of an investigation into plastic use within the NHS (https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-guilty-binning-staggering-120-12338192). To summarise the report, the plastic waste originating from within the NHS is being disposed of with the regular waste collection. Plastic cups and disposables have their place; in the NHS they represent a sanitary and hygienic option for patients, the issue here is the mishandling of disposable products rather than the specific use of single-use plastics.
Oil based plastics are an easily recyclable commodity, almost without exception. With simple sorting and an appropriate plastic collection the large amount of plastic cups the NHS uses (334,000 per day according to this report) would be recycled and the landfill issue avoided.
We are always keen to encourage the ethical use of disposable plastics, in fact we frequently advise customers on the matter. The media coverage this report will bring should at least be a catalyst for change within the NHS, there is little excuse for not sorting plastic waste and sending it for recycling – recycling facilities are available nationwide and collection schemes widespread.