By John Haken, Director at WF Denny
The term ‘plastic pollution’ is one that many households are now aware of, thanks in large part to recent publicity from David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which illustrated the extent of the issue and the devastating impact plastic waste is having on the planet.
A report featured in Science Magazine in 2017 revealed that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced to date. Of this, 6.3 billion tonnes is now waste, and 79% of this can either be found in landfill or the natural environment.
It is impossible to deny the large-scale damage that plastic waste is having on the environment, which has resulted in a growing number of households looking to reduce the amount they use in order to avoid contributing to the problem.
We give our tips on how to do so below.
1) Check your takeaway
Find out whether your favourite takeaway is using recyclable or compostable packaging. Very often, cheap polystyrene is used by takeaways, and while this is technically recyclable, these items are not recycled in any post-consumer waste streams. Because of this, the government is looking into placing additional taxing on polystyrene use to encourage businesses to seek a more environmentally-friendly option. Instead, look out for card boxes, compostable boxes and paper bags in your takeaway.
2) Opt for loose tea
You would be forgiven for thinking that tea bags are fully compostable, however, this is not the case. Most tea bags are made with 70-80% paper fibre, while the rest is produced from a heat-resistant polypropylene mesh. While homeowners are advised to compost tea bags, these polypropylene fibres will accumulate in the garden, and the only way to remove them completely is to sieve the soil. Loose tea is better for the environment, and will also help you to save money.
3) Shop sustainably
One of the most important factors to consider when trying to reduce plastic use is whether you are buying too much to begin with. The best place to reduce food waste is during your regular food shop. Where possible, opt for products made from cardboard, foil or recyclable plastics. What’s more, check the recycling information on the packaging, and when purchasing fresh fruit and veg, buy loose items instead of those that are packaged.
4) Avoid black plastic food trays
Black plastic trays are widely used to hold ready meals because they are usually microwaveable. However, the majority of these plastics cannot be recycled due to their colour. Black plastics are usually covered with carbon black pigments, which reflect little to no light, causing problems in recycling centres. Avoid this by choosing ready meals that are packaged in foil or card trays.
5) Swap disposable for reusable
Where possible, try to opt for reusable cups when visiting coffee houses. While many people consider this an inconvenience, opting to do this can have a positive impact on the environment. In fact, many coffee chains are now offering discounts when customers bring their own drinks vessel.