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Recycling and Waste over the Decades

In 2016, (barely) nothing can be done without considering how waste management could be more efficient or thinking “how can it be recycled?” The government is doing all it can to encourage people to live a recycle conscious “greener lifestyle” in every part of our lives. You only need to take a look at our blog on the Supermarket Carrier Bag to see what I mean. Some people embrace this new recycling culture where as other people resent it, simply saying they “don’t have time” or “it’s too expensive”, but are these fair excuses?

Attitudes towards recycling have changed immensely over the decades. I’m going to take a look at the areas where recycling has been impacted the most so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show…

Packaging

Take a look at the introduction of the microwave meal in the 1950s. Nowadays, people lead much busier lives and simply do not have time to do the same things that they did years ago. But what consequences have things like microwavable meals had on recycling, let alone the time and potential health issues? I think most people remember the 1950s as a time when food was made fresh and local, so the need for the long-life good was unknown. Fast forward to the 2000s and now food is served in plastic trays sealed with a tightly-fitted plastic film to ensure quality and consistency and to feed the quick, easy, and convenient cooking culture.

Plastic and glass bottles are another huge enemy to recycling efforts. After being first introduced in the 1970s, it sent millions of people worldwide into a fizzy frenzy. But recycling efforts didn’t begin to take off until the 1990s. In the US, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) did a study in 2010 and estimated that almost 30% of plastic bottles and 34% of glass bottles were recycled. So although progress is being made there is plenty more to be done in the future.

Food

An interesting recent report by the Guardian (link to link below) showed that 20 years ago, home baked cakes made up half of all cakes made in the UK, a figure which dropped by 30% in 2013 as mass production increasingly fills supermarket shelves and as a bi-product, an increase in packaging and potential waste of sold goods. You may have seen “Hugh’s War on Waste” that has been aired on TV recently. This highlights that there’s a growing issue amongst manufacturers of ‘overproduction’ and consequently, there is so much waste which people never even see.

In today’s world, however, there are a growing number of forms of recycling and waste management; for example Reuse recycling and Recycle buying. Even a large percentage of the food produced by supermarkets is often thrown away due to a failure in standards.

Compost and Landfills

Composting is something which is slowly beginning to creep back into the lives of ordinary people and not only those who enjoy gardening. As a nod to the good old days, when composting was common practice in many homes, we’re increasingly encouraged to compost food scraps from the kitchen as well as grass cuttings and garden clippings. We have a role to play in looking after our planet.

Composting is a great example of natural waste management, for both businesses and families. People are often drawn towards the “I’ll take it to the dump”, rather than thinking about what they’re recycling and inadvertently creating more landfill methane gases.

Paper

There have been numerous efforts to try to express in a variety of ways the effect humanity has on the rainforests…”an area the size of Wales is lost every year” and “an area the size of a football pitch is lost every minute”. (are these just examples or actual facts?)But despite the startling facts people continue to waste paper unnecessarily. The Economist showed in 2012 that each person in the UK uses the equivalent of 4.48 forty-foot trees! When you consider the growing popularity of mobile technology you would think we would be using less paper, but alas!

Are you finding that maybe you’re using too much paper in the office? Why not consider the purchase of a baler?  With one of these, you can easily separate your waste into individual bales, which not only making recycling easier but we’ll even buy the bales off you. If this interests you, have a look at our Recycle Buy or email us at recyclebuy@phoenixcomp.co.uk for more information.

Happy Recycling!