How to make informed decisions over your plastic recycling

Free Press columnist Kirsty-Jo Muddiman explores the risks of plastics on people and the environment. c

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 4:55 pm

Even if we recycle all plastic, the carbon footprint for doing this and the limited number of cycles we can get out of plastic makes it something which has a significant environmental impact.

The thing about plastic is that at the end of its life, it ends up in food chains as tiny bits of plastic.

One of the characteristics of plastic is that it attracts chemical pollutants and they adhere to it so it’s not something we, or wildlife, want to be ingesting.

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Plastic recycling.
Plastic recycling.

It also lasts for hundreds of years and the amount of plastic in our environment increases every day.

Making and recycling plastic often has less environmental impact than alternatives such as paper and glass.

As we tackle single use plastic, we need to make sure that the alternatives aren’t being chosen just because they aren’t plastic.

The key to successful switches is to be informed.

When companies have misleading statements on their packaging like ‘compostable’, and we actually don’t have the plants required to industrially compost, it’s frustrating to say the least.

Put simply, it’s time we had some honesty from the industry so we can assess products for ourselves.

Clear and universal labeling and a consistent recycling scheme over the whole country would go a long way to creating the right platform from which we can start to make positive changes.

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The Conservative manifesto included measures to extend producer responsibility for waste and even goes so far as to pledge a bottle deposit return scheme for glass and plastics so we’re hopefully moving in the right direction.

Tesco are ditching the plastic wrap on multi-buys, which is great news!

Whilst industry catches up with tackling pointless waste, we should continue to rethink our choices, refuse single-use, reuse what we can, repair and re-purpose and then recycle if all else fails.

One easy switch is to buy tomato purée in cans rather than tubes. Whether you’re taking one small step or a giant leap, every step counts.