A BIT ABOUT PLASTIC WASTE
Since we started mass producing plastic about 60 years ago, around 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created- most of it in single use form.
Plastic waste, like any other commodity, is traded across the world, and much of it ends up being sold to developing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, where there's not sufficient infrastructure to deal with it responsibly.
But nor do we have the infrastructure here in the UK deal with plastic at the rate we use it and most of it still ends up in landfill or being incinerated.
In fact, globally, only about 9% of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled. Around 12% of it has been incinerated and, because it takes so long for plastic to break down, the rest all still exists in our environment somewhere in some form, whether this is in landfill or as litter on land and in waters. That's a staggering amount of plastic waste just kicking about, polluting our world.
And plastic never goes away. Over the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of years it will take for these plastic items to break down, they will never return to the oils they were made from. Instead they’ll just get smaller and smaller until they become microplastics; tiny fibres and particles which float in the air we breathe, and make their way into soils and waterways and so into the food chain where ultimately we are all consuming them at a rate of about 5g a week- enough plastic to make a credit card!
REDUCE > REUSE > RECYCLE
We need to reduce the plastic that we use. The less we buy, the less demand there is for production.
We need to reuse the plastic that already exists.
And since plastic can only be recycled a couple of times before its quality decreases beyond practical use, and not all “recycling” really gets recycled, this should be the last resort.