I’m pretty good at recycling. All my paper and card – down to the price tags on clothes – is put into my recycling bin. I can put glass in there and cans too, so I do. But then I get to plastic.
More than a third of all plastic produced is used for packaging goods (in the UK) so I obviously have a lot of it. My recycling bag just has a picture of laundry detergent bottles and something that looks like Toilet Duck. So what about all the plastic that comes with food?
There are 50 or so different groups of plastics and to make things easier for recycling, the American Society of Plastics Industry developed a marking code to help consumers identify plastics. These are:
To create plastic involves a significant use of fossil fuels – including 4% of the world’s annual oil production – and a lot of chemicals.
So recycling plastic is a good idea then? Well yes, but resuing is preferable. Reusing means less energy and resources used compared to recycling, and the big contender for resuse is plastic bags. More of an issue in Europe where more people walk or get public transport to the shops, plastic bags don’t degrade well so landfills are errr full of them.
And that’s where most of the plastic goes – landfills. Including the plastic from food packaging. My recycling collection takes bottles because they’re mainly all the same type of plastic and can be recycled easily, whereas the other types cannot.
So the bottles are going in there, but what do I do about the rest?