We are surrounded by it and despite the fact that plastic is a marvellous, versatile material, the multiple qualities that make plastic so useful and durable, are also a bit of a nightmare for the environment.
Plastics are not biodegradable, they photo degrade. That means they break down incredibly slowly when exposed to the sun, into smaller and smaller pieces. This material takes anything from 500 to 1000 years to degrade! Once made, it is here to stay in one form or another, unless it ends its days in an incinerator.
Huge quantities of plastic end up in our oceans each year threatening the health and lives of all kinds of sea life. Thousands of mammals and seabirds die every year after ingesting small pieces of plastic, or becoming entangled in it. 95% of all of the waste that ends up in the ocean is plastic and it is impossible to completely remove all of this pollution from the sea.
Plastic bags are a real culprit in terms of pollution and waste. The wind picks them up and carries them away before dumping them in all sorts of places; we are all familiar with seeing them in waterways, hedgerows and on the streets.
BUT HERES WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT!
Look for suitable alternatives to the disposable plastic items you habitually rely on. By reducing the quantity of single-use plastics you use, you can make a huge difference.
Focus on items like:
If you look at the amount of recycling waste produced in the majority of homes or offices, you will see that plastics are the main waste material produced. In a workplace with 50 people, just switching from single-use drink containers to reusable ones would have a massive impact.
Know your plastics – This will help you to avoid the types that are difficult to recycle. Polystyrene foam and plastic carrier bags are among the worst offenders.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) – Used in the production of plastic bottles and piping and Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), used in the majority of food containers are amongst the most commonly recycled plastics, making them a better choice.
Recycle responsibly – Having reduced the amount of plastic waste you produce in the first place and taken care to avoid plastics with low recycling rates, all that is left, is to make sure that you collect, store and recycle all of your plastic waste responsibly. Make sure that your waste does not end up polluting the environment.
Observe your waste – Whether you are aiming to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced in a residential or commercial environment, closely observing the type of plastic waste items produced by looking at what is collected over any fixed period will help you to spot the key areas to tackle first in order to reduce your plastic waste further.
Implementing change – Making changes often requires breaking your own habits and challenging the way other businesses operate, in order to reduce your carbon footprint. If you are able to identify key areas where there is a potential to make changes for the better, why not suggest them?
Remember, you will generally be met with reluctance initially, but if at first you do not succeed…!