Is it possible to use less plastic and save the planet?

Ever since the moment the images of a whale in the Antarctic mourning her poisoned calf were shown on the BBC’s Blue Planet II, the issue of how much damage plastic is doing to the planet has been of constant attention. An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in oceans each year, and it is everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads. Plastics are everywhere we look including our homes and our workplaces. It has been speculated that the human race is so dependent upon plastic that we cannot live in a world without it. However, we can certainly have a world in which we use less.The UK government has committed to a £61.4m fund to support Commonwealth countries in fighting the increase of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans whilst also announcing a ban on the use of plastic straws and other single-use plastic products.

While most people do want to help with reducing the amount of plastic going to land fill, not everyone is clear on how to do so. For example, only 46% of people know that plastic bags can be recycled at supermarkets up and down the country at their special collection points. This would also include the plastic wrap used on magazines. Morrisons are also introducing brown paper bags for their loose fruit and vegetables and have already introduced a scheme where customers can bring their own containers to use at the meat and fish counters and they will get 100 loyalty points each time they do. Morrisons, along with Aldi, Asda, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact and have pledged, along with many other things, that by 2025 100% of plastic packaging is to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.

What is the UK Plastics Pact?

It is an initiative that brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain in collaboration to change in the way we design, produce, use, re-use, dispose and reprocess plastics. ( Members also include: Birdseye, Boots, Britvic, Coca Cola European Partners, Danone, Lakeland, McCain and Nestle. The set of pledges to tackle pollution over the next 7 years include: Eliminate difficult or unnecessary single use plastic packaging through better design, make sure 70% of plastic packaging is recycled or composted and to ensure 30% of packaging is to include recycled material. The pact has been praised and welcomed by many environmental groups.

What can you do to reduce your plastic footprint?

  • Bring your own water bottle – Try using a refillable bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Reconsider using black plastic – Even though they are recyclable, pure carbon-black plastic is sometimes not picked up by the infrared sorting machines at recycling plants in the UK and is then rejected and sent to land fill
  • Screw lids back on – By screwing plastic lids back on to their bottles and pushing straws back into the cartons it helps them to make their way through the recycling sorting machines. On their own they are too small to make it through.
  • Recycle your bags and plastic film – By taking recyclable plastic film and left-over carrier bags back to recycling points at the supermarket.
  • Foil instead of Cling Film – Unlike cling film, foil is fully recyclable. So next time you’re planning a picnic or even if you’re just wrapping your sandwiches for your lunch try wrapping them in foil. 
  • Freshen your breath with mints instead of chewing gum – Chewing gum, surprisingly, contains plastic and is not degradable. This then ends up littering our streets and beaches.
  • Reuse plastic containers – Could you put leftovers in an old ice cream tub or reuse an old margarine tub to store things in the fridge or freezer?
  • Buy loose fruit and veg – Try using paper bags to pack your groceries or just load them straight into your reusable shopping bags. 
  • Reduce your online shopping – Packaging from internet shopping is a major source of waste. Even the smallest of items come in a large box surrounded by plastic, paper and polystyrene.
  • Say no to plastic straws and stirrers – These are the items mostly found on beaches and in oceans. They also break down further to become harmful micro plastics. 
  • Use a reusable coffee cup – Can’t live without your caffeine fix on a morning? Try taking your own reusable coffee cup. Some coffee shops even give you a discount on hot drinks for doing so.
  • Use a reusable bag – Many companies have reusable shopping bags to hand out to customers in an attempt to help reduce plastic waste. We even have them here at Arktek Group Ltd. Please contact us if you would like a reusable bag by using our contact form or by calling us on 0191 5166911 to request one. Hurry while stocks last!

Plastic pollution is a continuing problem and the solution starts with us. By purchasing more eco friendly alternatives to plastic or just purchasing less stuff we have the can start to make a difference.