To tackle this, Pledge 4 Plastics – a national initiative aiming to boost plastics recycling – has released a short animated video revealing the ‘secret lives’ of plastics after being recycled.
Alongside plastic bottles, the animation places a strong emphasis on plastic tubs, pots and trays – only 30 per cent of which are recycled from UK households each year.
Ah, here we hit a problem in Redbridge and all the other boroughs that make up the East London Waste Authority who will only collect and recycle "plastic bottles". See Redbridge-i.
This can't be due to the different types of plastic, see below. I've been all over my house, garage and shed and checked my plastic bottles - I have examples of all 7 types, plus some with no marking at all. And it seems that separating different types of plastic is quite easy. So, the problem must be contamination. Bottles, by and large, contain liquids, some more viscous than others, but they generally do not solidify on contact with air and so any residue is easy to wash out. On the other hand residues of paint, glue, no more nails or silicon sealant, for example, is very difficult to remove. However, quite why margarine and yoghurt pots or meat trays fall into this latter category is beyond me at the moment.
Some interesting statistics from RECOUP, the member-based plastics recycling charity.
- It costs up to £78 million to dispose of the plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays not collected for recycling from UK households
- Less than 60 per cent of plastic bottles and 30 per cent of plastic pots, tubs and trays are collected for recycling from households in the UK
- 36 million plastic bottles are used by UK households in the UK every day - 15 million are not recycled
- The average UK household uses around 500 plastic bottles per year but only recycles just over half of them
- All types of plastic bottles can be recycled, including those used for juice, water, fizzy drinks, squash, sauces, cooking oils, washing up liquid, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, garden products and car products
“The aim of this video is to educate people in a really digestible format, showing examples of what kinds of plastics can be recycled – and, importantly, the diverse range of things they could become afterwards. We hope this surprising information will encourage people to share the video and, in turn, recycle more of their household plastics."
“Of course, your plastic bottles, trays, tubs and pots could simply become more plastic bottles, trays, tubs and pots – but they can also become anything from clothing and toys to building materials, such as fencing and piping.”
Jonathan Porritt, environmentalist and writer said: “These transformative examples show the wide variety of possibilities surrounding how recycled plastic can touch so many areas of our lives, without us even knowing about it."
“What an amazing material – plastic packaging coming back as your favourite football club’s shirt, your child’s toy, and even as parts of your car. Not to forget that it can be used in building products, paint pots ... the list is almost endless! Recycling plastic really does work, and the recyclers want more of your plastics – just make sure you follow your Council’s instructions about what their facilities can accept for recycling."