Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Good news from Robert Wiseman dairies. They have been thinking about the long term effect of bottle tops in the waste stream and have decided to remove colourant from their milk bottle caps to make them more recyclable: the new tinted caps also enable them to increase the level of recycled plastic in their bottles. This is a great example of a big company making commercial sense on recycling.
The dairy industry alone uses two billion plastic bottle tops a year in the UK. Add to that drinks bottles, pharmaceutical containers, deodorants, cleaning products - even your Pringle "pop" top and you have billions upon billions of caps each year which could be collected and reformed into something new.
So surely local authorities are making the most of this versatile recycled waste stream already?
There are 232 local authorities in the UK, most of whom collect bottles but not bottle tops. How can this be so, when all bottle reprocessing plants separate off the caps and send them to other recyclers? The sad fact is that if you look at local authority waste collections you would struggle to find two that operate in the same way.
Surely it's time for a single local authority waste strategy and a nationwide code on what we should and should not collect? A code which communicates the consistent message that plastic is a multi use, reusable raw material that is great in the hands of recyclers, but not very good in landfill. Here at Iplas, plastic bottle tops are one of the most important raw materials that we use to make into many different types of high quality recycled plastic products.
So well done Robert Wiseman: good recyclable materials getting into the hands of the recycling aware and well intentioned British public. Now it's over to the local authorities to get it back into the hands of the recyclers.
Posted by Iplas at 09:50
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
We have just had another week of attention-grabbing activity on waste from the politicians. Front page headlines have been trumpeting how the government is getting tough on plastic bags; how the Welsh government is introducing a tax for the said offending items, and how there's going to be a handout for local authorities to collect the bins once a week.
None of these are new stories and arguably they do little to really combat the "throw-away society" we have become. While it is essential that efforts are made to reduce unnecessary packaging and to encourage alternative solutions, we should be careful not to forget the other 2 R's in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra.
Let's take plastic bags first. Like many families, I am sure, the plastic bags that we use to bring home our supermarket shopping are reused during the week as bin liners. Adding a plastic bag tax will not prevent plastic bags being sent to landfill, they will just be called bin liners instead.
Secondly, while the UK government invests in the "basic right" to have your bins collected weekly, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15118516, other European governments have taken a different approach.
They have invested in the infrastructure that allows the collection, sorting and resale of low value packaging products that are then turned into high value recycled building materials, at competitive prices. This in turn gives a boost to those countries' home economies, creating local employment.
To be truly environmentally responsible in the long term, the government should be encouraging product/packaging designers to research and design cradle to cradle products rather than pushing the problem further down the chain. We have something to learn from our European neighbours.
Posted by Iplas at 11:27