This year, Twitter marked the 1st of August as #EarthOvershootDay, which essentially marks the point at which humans consumed more resources than the Earth can regenerate in the year.
The media has only recently started highlighting the amount of plastic waste we are producing, but the problem has been stockpiling for a long time. What’s changed is that we are simply no longer able to ignore it.
At the beginning of the year, China imposed a ban on imports of plastics other countries, including the UK, were sending there for recycling. This led to higher disposal costs in the UK, most of which have so far been absorbed by the waste management companies. However, businesses need to ask the question: for how long will they be prepared to do that? Landfill tax is increasing and the world is producing more plastic waste than official figures suggest.
Until manufacturers and consumers find alternatives to the massive volume of single-use plastic being used on a daily basis, those responsible for waste management have a problem.
Environmental groups are having some success in encouraging companies to find alternatives to plastic; even the Queen has got involved, promising to phase out single-use plastic on the royal estates.
Plastic-free supermarket aisles and refill shops are springing up around the world, which proves that it is possible to live without plastic. Consumers now have a ‘Plastic Free’ trust mark to look out for on product labels which will hopefully allow shoppers to choose products with no plastic packaging, and in turn, encourage companies to find sustainable alternatives instead.
However, this is just a small drop in the plastic ocean.
It is estimated that, of the 9 billion tonnes of single-use plastic created since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled. Even though a further 12% has been incinerated, that still leaves more than 7 billion tonnes of plastic buried in landfill, being stockpiled, lying as rubbish in our countryside, or polluting our seas. Even if the world stopped using all single-use plastics tomorrow, this backlog would still be a major problem.
Some companies are finding innovative ways to recycle our current plastic waste, which could be good news if your business has a lot to dispose of. A few UK companies are selling recycled plastic wood products such as fencing, street furniture, decking etc. Enfield Council has even started trialing road surfaces made out of recycled plastic.
In fact, the manufacture of products made from recycled plastics is gaining momentum, and the UK Best Recycled Plastic Product Awards are now in their fifth year, with past winners producing products as diverse as eco walls, rodent traps, dog paddling pools, and 3D printing products, as well as replacement bottles and packaging.
Hopefully, these kinds of businesses will grow in popularity enabling the country to divert millions of tonnes of plastic from the environment. If you would like to investigate making a difference by selling your plastic waste for recycling, call us on 01708 550641.