Still at the forefront of people’s minds currently, and rightly so, the concern over the amount of plastic waste, where it goes and how we discard it, remains an important issue. However, there are glimmers of light in the darkness of how we deal with these problems.
The most important message to get across is to arm the consumer with the facts, rather than stick our heads in the sand.
We trust that the waste (not just plastic waste) we send for recycling will get responsibly recycled, be it into a park bench, children’s play equipment, or even more packaging. The reality is that much of it is simply shipped off to foreign countries, for them to deal with, and we can rest assured in the knowledge we have a certificate confirming we’ve ‘done well’ from the waste contractor. However, this article tells us otherwise: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/20/plastic-recycling-industrys-problems-costing-councils-up-to-500000-a-year
It’s clear that we need to take full responsibility of our own waste, then we can fully appreciate the true cost of ALL types of packaging that we’re using. We live in a society that demands products and produce to be packed economically, cleanly, efficiently, hygienically, while maintaining brand awareness for the retailer. There are so many types of packaging around today’s marketplace, probably too many to recycle currently. However, a British company, Recycling Technologies, has invented a machine capable of recycling all types of the ‘hard to process’ packaging, back into a usable oil form, ready for either re-manufacture, or use in heavy freight shipping. More information here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-43418391/the-firm-turning-plastic-into-oil
This shows a clear indication that something is being done to combat the problem of the amount of packaging waste we’re producing. Now we need to be more responsible in how we discard our waste.
It’s very easy to jump on the ‘banish the bag’ and ‘ban all plastics’ bandwagon, and simply ‘move’ over to the seemingly much more eco-friendly alternative of paper and card packaging. We run the risk of simply side-shifting the problem that is our throwaway culture, rather than educating the consumer into responsible reuse and recycling.
The biggest threat to our planet is simply the amount of carbon we’re putting out into the atmosphere. Increasing demand on paper, card, cotton and jute, in the backlash against plastic carrier bags, results in much higher levels of carbon emitted in the manufacture of these aforementioned alternatives. It’s a fact that a paper bag for instance is 4 times more damaging in its carbon footprint, to that of it’s plastic bag equivalent. Also worth mentioning is the millions of gallons of water required to process wood for pulp and paper production, and additionally similar amounts to process cotton for clothing and bags.
The message is clear, more work needs to be done by everyone, to reduce, reuse, recycle.