The plastic backlash
- Every bit of plastic made is still around, unless it’s been incinerated.
- By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
- Every minute one truck full of plastic waste is thrown in the ocean.
- make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable
- make 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled (or composted)
- have 30% recycled content in all plastic packaging.
- Analysing Giki’s full set of UK supermarket products we found just under 5000 products which with widely recycled plastic. That compares to almost 20,000 “not currently recycled”
- Only 45% of plastic in the UK is recycled and there are limited industrial composting facilities
- Only a smattering of companies use recycled plastic at the moment (look out for comments on the label and also name like rPET which standards for recycled PET).
There will be challenges, cost in particular. It is still cheaper to make virgin plastic than to make plastic from recycled materials and so higher costs may well be passed onto the consumer. Also only certain plastics can be used for “food grade” plastics and so companies cannot simply recover plastics from the sea and start making new juice bottles. However, if we can make a material that would have lasted from the Aztec Empire to now, these are surely surmountable? Indeed supermarkets and brands in the vanguard are already nearly there. Are Bioplastics the answer? Biodegradable plastic derived from biological materials such as plants rather than oil sound like a great idea. But without commercial scale composting sites they cant be composted efficiently and can hang around in the environment for years. Additionally, bioplastics can contaminate the plastic recycling systems if not sorted effectively (no local authority is collecting compostable packaging in the UK). Bioplastic production also competes for resources such as land and food crops, so that doesn’t seem sustainable. In short it sounds great, but at the moment reducing plastic and looking for better plastic seem like surer answers. So what can you do today? 4 actionable to-dos.
- Look on the label, or scan the barcode with Giki’s free app, for recycling information. Recycle everything you can. Can you recycle 3 out of 4 pieces of plastic that come into your house?
- Find a product that is made from recycled material. Scan it and share it with your friends when you recycle it.
- Get your kids involved too. Scan a few items with them to help them learn about packaging. You can check out the healthier options badge at the same time!
- Got a product with plastic that cannot be recycled? Look for alternatives and, even better, see if you can save money at the same time. We’d love to hear about it.