Can I Recycle This? Problems With Plastic
By Dave Young
Got your kerbside recycling collection sorted? Adapted to the new regime of putting glass in with paper instead of separate containers?
Good, because that’s the easy part. What continues to bewilder many HIP readers is plastics, not least because there’s a mix of types and that leads to a mix of messages.
A recent BBC report cautioned: “Most of the plastic food containers that householders wash out after use and put in the recycling bin cannot actually be recycled …” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7516859.stm)
According to the Local Government Association only about 30% can be repurposed – the rest is sent to landfill. Consequently the LGA – representing councils in England and Wales – says the government should consider a ban on low-grade plastics and wants it to make manufacturers pay for the costs of collecting and disposing of plastics that can’t be recycled.
So what does this mean for residents of Hastings and St Leonards?
“Black trays are still not recyclable,” confirms a council spokesperson. “All plastic film can be recycled. Anything that goes into recycling but ultimately can’t be recycled is incinerated for electricity. NOTHING goes into landfill.
HIP readers can help increase recycling rates by giving recyclables a quick rinse before putting out for the green bin/pink sack.”
‘Plastic film’ apparently includes the (arguably unnecessary) flimsy covering on boxes of teabags and sweet cartons and on frozen meals. Plastic carrier bags may also be included with recycling, but cling film should go in the waste bin, along with crisp packets and salad bags.
However, just because goods can’t be picked up in a kerbside collection doesn’t mean they are unrecyclable.
Items marked with an asterisk in the ‘can’t recycle’ list below can be taken to the recycling facility at Freshfields (off the A259 at Bulverhythe) – along with domestic electrical goods, car batteries and engine oil, shoes, old tins of paint and scrap metal.
Additionally some local shops, notably ‘Wonderfill’ in Kings Rd, will take old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and pens. Print cartridges can be posted (free) to reclamation centres.
Don’t give up the fight.
Plastic By Numbers
• 120 billion single-use bottles made by Coca-Cola every year
• 90% of sea birds have plastic in their stomach
• 450 years for a plastic bottle to breakdown in the ocean
• One rubbish-truck load of plastic enters the ocean every minute. Annual total up to 12.7 million tons
• 80% of plastic litter in sea is from land-based sources. The rest is released at sea
• Only 1% of marine litter floats
• 38 billion fragments of plastic found on uninhabited Henderson Island in Pacific Ocean
• 500,000 plastic particles per square metre found in a Manchester river (possibly the highest ever in one place)
• Plastic found in rain falling on Rocky Mountains in Colorado
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