A plastic bag from the supermarket costs 5p, thousands of food packaging labels are marked with the universal recycling symbol, and you can now buy reusable coffee cups from the coffee giants – recyclable is the biggest trend in packaging for the last five years.
We recycle to minimise waste, save space in landfills, and protect the environment from toxic materials. One of the biggest reasons to recycle is the damage that plastic does to our sea and sealife – according to the World Wildlife Fund UK, plastic residue gets eaten by seabirds and turtles and, as their campaign to ban avoidable single-use plastics states, ‘plastic is found in the deepest reaches of the ocean, and even in remote Arctic sea ice.’ The charity has launched a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills by 2025.
Recycling isn’t always convenient – and that 5p charge for a plastic bag isn’t much deterrent. Most materials are not fully biodegradable, being compostable at best, which is very expensive and extremely slow to compost. As if that wasn’t inconvenient enough, if some plastics get mixed up with a batch of compostable plastics, the entire batch is considered ruined. And if you do manage to fully separate all non-recyclable and recyclable rubbish, there’s no guarantee that your recycling will even be recycled, with many councils preferring to simply dump it into a landfill with all other rubbish.
But recycling does begin with convenience and ease, so let’s look at what is recyclable and what isn’t. Black plastic bags – rubbish bags, for example – can be recycled, and so can most clear plastic, including our own range of black and clear plastic packaging. Paper, on the other hand, costs far more to recycle than plastic. Plastic simply needs collecting, washing and granulating – a very short route from waste to new material.
If plastic is made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), it can be recycled an infinite number of times. Websites such as www.recyclenow.com let you know where you can dispose of your plastic waste.
Many companies now incorporate recycled materials into their business strategy. British supermarket chain Morrison’s recently began a trial scheme of giving out coupons in exchange for old plastic bottles. In Scandinavia, you can pay for parking with your empty water bottle. And Japan has been ahead of the recycling curve for decades, with Tokyo rated one of the world’s cleanest cities, due in large part to their emphasis on recycling and zero tolerance for littering.
Recyclable materials are becoming more and more popular, as they help protect wildlife and our animals. With even more research coming out on the dangers of plastic pollution, the next decade is guaranteed to mark an uprise in the use of fully recyclable packaging.
Melrose Packaging offers a range of recyclable packaging products. Click here to visit our online store.