I'm learning about plastics every day.
I admit to not being an expert certainly, and being guided by those who have worked with plastics their whole careers. Indeed, my business mentor for Plastic Free Baby has been Jim Fletcher (Fletcher Business Solutions) who has worked in the plastics industry for a great deal of his working life. And I've loved reading No.More.Plastic by Martin Dorey.
Doing some reading around the issues, I've learnt recently about WRAP - a Waste and Recycling Action Programme. They tell us that the UK currently uses five million tonnes of plastic every year. Wowzers. That's a lot for sure, but WRAP tells us that there are ways for industry, government, recyclers, manufacturers and producers to be able to transform the plastics system in the UK.
I know that it's really tricky that a lot of products bought from this shop are wrapped in plastic - often types of low density polythene, a recyclable plastic - but my feeling is that there is something that needs to be fundamentally changed within the whole plastics system to rectify this issue. For me to simply take products out of plastic bags to arrive with my customers plastic free would be disingenuous and in fact would cover up the much wider global issue here. Plastic is currently the 'go to' material, relied upon in shipping, manufacture, and postage, for all sorts of reasons including that it reduces freight costs (and carbon impact) as it is light weight and that it keeps things safe and hygienic when shipping from its production source. Could there be alternative materials used instead? Or is it just a case of making the plastic more recyclable? It's so easy to confuse different types of plastic, so is there a way for making it easier for us to recycle locally??? It's complicated and nuanced!...
But WRAP are helping with this by working with industries to create a recyclability labelling system called on-pack recycling label (OPRL) which would make it easier for us to identify what type of plastic it is and where it can be recycled. They are campaigning for a 'circular economy' whereby plastic can be easily recycled and therefore not enter our natural environment. Good!
The best way to find out what can be recycled in your area at the moment is by searching on recyclenow.com/local-recycling
Learn more about The UK Plastics Pact here too