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I was particularly taken by news this week (see more below) of a new project set up with the aim of recycling all plastics in Scotland – including those currently considered to be unrecyclable. The reason I found the news so inspirational was because it was only a few days previously that I’d learned that dumping plastic food packaging and bottles costs Scotland £11m annually.
That - by global standards - this relatively small and sparsely populated country should spend so much money disposing of these plastics, was a shock in itself, but when I considered what might be being wasted on plastics disposal globally I couldn’t help but wonder why this ‘anti-plastics’ campaign has taken so long to gain momentum.
In Scotland alone, over 20 million plastic bottles are left to litter the environment each year and households produce approximately 120,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste. Over 64,000 tonnes of plastic food packaging and plastic bottles is thrown into household general rubbish bins and sent to landfill every year. This means that on average, each household is binning 27Kg of food and drink plastics that could have been recycled. This plastic could have been worth £5.7 million if recycled, but instead costs Scotland and its local authorities, an estimated £5.3 million to send to landfill.
Just imagine these figures on a global level!
Why are our supermarkets and other retailers still using so much plastic? Why did I have to break into the packaging protecting my new computer mouse this week, using scissors and a knife, cutting myself and almost taking an eye out in the process? Why can I choose individual bananas in the supermarket, but have to buy bell peppers in packets of three (one of each ‘traffic light’ colour, when my family doesn’t really like the green ones)? Why aren’t we charging 50p per single-use plastic bag, rather than the usual 5p or 10p?
Considering that a third of the plastic packaging we use globally escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our streets, blocking our drains, polluting our environment on land and in the sea, surely we should be doing more to prevent its use?
I do hope this project in Scotland is successful and ends up being adopted in other countries, but in the meantime, we should really be finding ways to reduce the unnecessary use of so much plastic, don’t you think?
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14th June 2018