Today is the 2021 Global Recycling Day aimed at helping people recognise the importance of recycling across the world for the benefit of our planet.
BetterYou have launched a Plastic Petition as part of their The Better Planet Project to unify UK recycling, urging the government to reclaim ownership of the nation’s plastic waste.
Did you know that less than half of recyclable plastic waste in the UK actually gets recycled?
Up to 80% of our plastic waste is sent abroad, burnt or sent to landfill!
Something has to change.
The problem with plastic packaging
300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every single year.
It’s a staggering amount and a figure that is hard for us to comprehend just how much plastic that really is, and of course how much waste it causes.
This is how much plastic is produced so there is already a staggering amount of plastic in existence on top of this!
95% of all packaging is only used once.
What an absolute waste!
This is a figure that always shocks me and it’s not surprising. Most of the food we purchase is wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging that seems pointless.
It is something that really irritates me too and has done for years. For many years now there are some smaller, independent companies that use more eco-friendly packaging such as compostable packaging.
I’ve purchased cereals and snacks from natural health food stores that use compostable packaging and it always makes me question - why isn’t everyone doing this?
Sadly, the truth is probably the cost. Plastic is cheap and for huge companies to make a significant change and fast, it will eat into their profits.
Otherwise why wouldn’t the large cheaper brands lead the way?
Of course we can choose to buy the better packaged products, but it’s not always down to choice with many people on a tight budget for food shopping and living costs as it is.
It’s a change that needs to be enforced at a higher level, encouraged by the government with subsidies and law changes to make a real change.
But surely we can just recycle all this plastic packaging?
You’d think so, right?
It’s 2021 after all.
Unfortunately no matter how much the government pressurises us to lead more sustainable lives, they don’t seem to always be practicing what they preach.
There is still non-recyclable plastic packaging being used which has no choice but to end up in landfill.
In my opinion, any non-recyclable plastic packaging should be banned with immediate effect.
And sadly, even plastic we can recycle has no guarantee of actually being recycled.
Different councils recycle different things and then there’s the scandal of recycling being shipped off to third world countries so recycling centres can meet targets, when really they're just shipping the problem off to another country who can't deal with our recycling waste either… so…
12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our rivers and oceans each year!
We think we don’t do this in our country, but it happens. Whether it’s from our plastic recycling that has been shipped around the world, cruise liners throwing garbage overboard (yes I saw that in a shocking documentary) or plain and simple littering. We are still contributing to the plastic that ends up in the oceans with devastating consequences to marine life and even our own.
So what can we do about the plastic packaging problem?
- We can choose to buy products with better packaging, if we can afford to and if they are available. Otherwise we are still forced to buy the products with questionable packaging, much to our annoyance.
- We need to ensure our plastic packaging waste really is getting recycled and doesn’t end up in landfill, burnt or sent abroad. To start this process you can help by signing the BetterYou Plastic Petition to ask the government to step up and ensure we sort out our plastic packaging mess in our own country: Please sign the Plastic Petition here!
- We can recycle our plastic packaging. Read the labels and make sure anything that can be recycled goes into the recycling bin and not landfill waste. Then, hopefully, it will actually get recycled!
- Buy in bulk. If possible, buy items in bulk. I now buy my washing up liquid, for instance, in bulk and it saves 47% of plastic compared to me buying the equivalent quantity in single use bottles. I can even take my large bulk bottle to be refilled, so I don’t need to buy another bottle and generate more plastic waste.
- Use refills. Like I just mentioned, use refills where possible. There are lots of eco-friendly brands available now that want to reduce plastic waste. An example is my kitchen spray, window spray and antibacterial bathroom spray. I have been using the same plastic bottles for years now and simply buy refills that come in plastic free sachets. I add these to the bottles and fill with water to create my home cleaning sprays. I never need to buy new plastic bottles.
- Make changes. Like above, we can reduce our own personal plastic consumption by making small changes. Think dry shampoo bars that come in cardboard packaging, using soap instead of shower gel, using refillable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles.
- We can raise awareness of the plastic problem and solutions by sharing articles like this one you are reading right now and taking part in initiatives like Global Recycling Day and signing the Plastic Petition to encourage change and action.
What can companies do to reduce the plastic problem?
Firstly companies can stop using non-recyclable packaging. This is destined for landfill and so it’s one of the most un-eco-friendly plastics to use.
Make sure any plastic that has to be used is fully recyclable and labelled as such, so customers know.
Ideally, to help prevent new plastics being made, companies should also use recycled plastic to create their packaging.
This is exactly what supplements company BetterYou are doing. They have teamed up with one of the most innovative plastic manufacturers to develop their plastic packaging from ocean waste plastic. Helping to reduce the plastic in the ocean, as well as make it reusable.
They aim to transform their entire product range to using only plant based plastic or recycled ocean waste plastic. All this packaging will be 100% recyclable, so it can be repurposed and reused again and again.
Now they need the government to act to ensure this plastic is actually recycled and not dumped in landfill, burnt or shipped off to other countries.
Not only are BetterYou ensuring their company is more sustainable by addressing the packaging they use, but they have also launched a Plastic Petition to ask the government to take charge of our countries plastic recycling and improve the current situation with a unified response.
You can find out more in their press release here:
BetterYou launches Plastic Petition to unify UK recycling, urging government to reclaim ownership of the nation’s plastic waste
• The BetterYou Plastic Petition demands a unified approach to waste plastic collection and recycling, insisting that government start to repair the UK’s environmental impact
• According to the Everyday Plastic Survey, increased online ordering during COVID-19 has meant that household plastic consumption has risen. But, with no coherent recycling policy, where is this waste plastic going?
• Less than half of all recyclable household plastic waste in the UK is actually recycled, with up to 80 per cent of material collected for recycling being sent abroad, to landfill or burned.
Campaigning for positive environmental change, Yorkshire-based health brand BetterYou launches its Plastic Petition demanding a national and unified programme for waste plastic collection and recycling in England.
A 2019 YouGov poll named ‘confusing rules’ as one of the biggest issues keeping Brits from recycling effectively, with one in twenty saying they won’t recycle anymore, unless they’re assured that items sent for recycling are actually recycled (not sent to landfill).
Current government policy lacks the transparency needed to create an effective recycling lifecycle and despite a national appetite for recycling and reducing waste, many people have never been more confused over what plastic their council will or will not recycle.
Each council has their own plastic recycling policy, with the types of plastic considered recyclable, varying from one authority to another.
BBC News recently reported that in the 12 months to March 2019, 50 councils incinerated more than half of the household rubbish they collected, including plastic and paper. Amongst the worst offenders was Westminster Council, which burned 82 per cent of all household rubbish.
What’s more, Rotherham Council only started collecting household plastic last year, following pressure from a public petition.
BetterYou founder and managing director, Andrew Thomas, says
“There is no synergy, no clarity and certainly no universal performance standard to be measured by within the UK’s current recycling policy. Many of us diligently separate our waste plastics, yet this very waste may still be contributing to an environmental disaster on a scale never before seen.
“I believe that the incomprehensible and poorly communicated ways in which recycling is collected across the UK has unsurprisingly reduced the public’s compliance to plastic recycling – if you make a process confusing enough, people will eventually stop doing it.
“Our government is not acting decisively enough to ensure more of our waste plastic is collected and recycled, so we must insist that local and national government work together towards a more effective and self-sustaining plastic recycling programme to reduce and start to repair our environmental impact.
“That’s why our newly launched Plastic Petition is so important. The petition demands a single and universally adopted recycling programme which every local authority should sign-up to. A programme which is standardised, independently monitored, and publicly reviewed annually.
It proposes that all local authorities are governed, monitored, and reviewed equally, upholding an agreed best practice programme for collection and recycling.”
The truth about exports
With up to 80 per cent of the UK’s post-consumer plastic waste believed to be recycled, actually sent abroad, to landfill or burned, the British public is becoming understandably sceptical.
Indonesia and Thailand are in the top ten for the quantity of waste plastics polluting the ocean, yet both continue to import UK plastic waste.
European countries such as Spain, France and the Netherlands, are also believed to accept tens of thousands of tonnes of UK plastic waste each year - but the uncomfortable truth is that sending waste abroad does not necessarily mean it will get recycled.
BetterYou invites the British public to join its endeavour to build a better planet. By standing for change and signing the petition, the brand believes that we can reclaim the ownership of our plastic waste.
The Better Planet Project
In 2019, BetterYou launched The Better Planet Project, an initiative that focuses on targeting all aspects of its environmental footprint – from ingredient sources, to the packaging used and how the brand supports the community.
For more information on BetterYou’s environmental initiatives and how the brand is standing for positive change, please visit www.betterplanetproject.co.uk
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Related eco-friendly reading:
Geyer R, Jambeck J R, Law KL. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances 2017 July 19, 3