The Blue Planet Effect

26 February by Miriam Heale


Plastic Recycling is high on the public agenda, dubbed ‘The Blue Planet Effect’ by some in the media.  Individuals, local communities and government are all attempting to reduce plastic usage.  You only have to read this account of a Blue Planet 2 cameraman rescuing a Sperm Whale (pictured) to understand the tragedy of polluting our oceans with plastic.

According to a recent report by PlasticsEurope - Plastics the Facts 2017 – the total plastic production in Europe reached 60 million tonnes (m t) in 2016, of which 27.1 m t were collected to be ‘treated’ (45.2%).

Of this 27.1 m t which was collected to be treated 72.7% was ‘reused’ (31.1% recycled, plus 41.6% used in energy recovery) and 27.3% sent to landfill.

This equates to around 19.5 m t (33%) of the total plastics in Europe being recycled/reused.

In stark contrast Sweden recycles/reuses 99% of their total waste through a combination of recycling and 50% is used in energy recovery (they actually have to import waste to run their energy from waste plants). 

However, this did not happen overnight, it took over 40 years for Sweden to make this shift.  In 1975 Sweden only recycled 38%, of their household waste, so there has been a real sea-change in their approach to waste, which has been tackled through a combination of strict legislation and cultural shift.

The EU target is 55% of all plastic to be recycled by 2030.  But it will take time and education, so while the government get their act together, we can all make sure we are recycling at home, because contrary to some beliefs, it definitely does make a difference.

Here are some myth-busting facts about recycling you might want to take on board for yourselves at home and help stop the pollution of our oceans, to keep the planet blue!

  1. You can leave the tops on! (as they didn’t say in the Full Monty) – most recycling plants can cope with plastic lids on bottles – just rinse out the bottle and replace the lid.
  2. You can recycle plastic food trays, -  most are recyclable and those that aren’t the recycling plant will filter out.
  3. You can recycle beach bottles and kitchen cleaner bottles, just rinse them out first.
  4. You can recycle foil or plastic trays (from the take away) just rinse them out first.
  5. You can recycle empty deodorant aerosols and hairspray - ensure empty and remove plastic caps (recycle with plastics)
  6. If we all gave up using Plastic Bags in the Supermarket we’d save around 8.5 billion bags going into our natural environment.
  7. Don’t buy plastic straws – who needs them? If you have to buy them, try and get paper ones.
  8. Don’t buy cotton buds with plastic stems – try and buy the ones that use rolled paper for the stem.
  9. Don’t use plastic bags to put your loose fruit and veg in, just pop what you need in your trolley/basket – the guys on the till don’t mind, honestly I’ve been doing it for years.
  10. Aerosols tins of furniture polish and air fresheners - ensure empty and remove plastic caps (recycle with plastics)

To find out more about recycling visit RecycleNow

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