12 Recycling Myths
Yesterday marked National Refill Day, an award-winning campaign that is designed to help everyone reduce their plastic pollution by making it easy to refill your reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one.
It seems fitting that on a day designed to raise awareness for plastic pollution, we take a look at the facts and dispose of the myths surrounding plastic use and recycling solutions.
- This logo means this product can be recycled. Actually, the Mobius Loop, also known as the Chasing Arrows, doesn’t actually mean that an item is recyclable. It actually only indicates that an item is capable of being recycled. The true recycling sign is the circular arrow on a green background.
- You don’t have to clean your recycling. Some recycling centres will not accept cans, plastic, or glass if they are contaminated with food. If a recycling centre receives contaminated materials, they will just send it to landfill or incinerate it. It will cost the centre too much money to process it, so make sure you rinse before you recycle.
- Reusable plastic bags are environmentally friendly. In 2017/18, over 1.75 billion plastic bags were sold across the UK. Even if you used a reusable plastic bag 100 times it will still take anywhere up to 1000 years to decompose depending on the conditions. Using a material alternative is the best thing you
- Paper straws can be recycled. There is no doubt that the increased use of paper straws over plastic straws is a good thing. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to be recycled due to the material being contaminated. Just like plastics cannot be recycled if they are contaminated.
- All plastics are recyclable. Don’t bother putting your black plastics into your recycling bin; they cannot be recycled. Due to optical scanner technologies used in recycling centres, black plastics absorbs the light and the machine cannot detect them. So make sure you put them into your non-recycling bin.
- Biodegradable plastics are environmentally friendly. Despite being biodegradable, it can still take as long as six months to degrade fully. What’s more, they are still created from similar petrochemical-based materials to normal plastics, so the manufacturing process is still very polluting.
- Plastics can be recycled over and over again. Unbelievably, plastics can only be recycled once or twice before they are repurposed as something more permanent such as fabric or building materials. Any plastics that are recycled more than once are called durable plastic, but when a durable plastic is recycled it has to be turned into a more permanent plastic such as fabric and other materials — losing its recycled potential.
- All of our plastic is recycled. More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, with 50% being single use, and only 9% recycled. The other 91% is in the air we breathe, the land we live on, and the water we drink.
- Plastic does not reach the ocean. In the Pacific Ocean, there is a collection of waste, 1.6 million square kilometres in size. Or, if you’d rather, three times the size of France, or six times larger than the UK. It is said to contain more than 1.3 trillion individual pieces of plastic which is speculated to weigh 80,000 tonnes.
- It is not damaging to use plastic bottles. Every minute around the world, almost 1 million plastic bottles are bought. This figure is extraordinary when you consider that just 91,000, or 9% of them are recycled. Worse still, knowing that over 900,000 plastic bottles will go to landfill, and will not decompose for over 400 years is even more worrying.
- The UK’s general waste is recycling free. According to some landfill sites, approximately 80% of general waste produced in the UK could have been recycled, a massively large proportion. This can be attributed to a lack of education on what materials are recyclable.
- Recycling paper doesn’t have much impact. In the UK, over 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used per year, with the average family throwing away six trees worth every twelve months. If every person recycled just 10% paper we could save approximately five million trees annually.
With RWM being 12 weeks away, and with tickets already in huge demand, now is the perfect time to register for your free ticket. What’s more, if you register now, you will receive this year’s official showguide well in advance of the show.
If your business offers recycling solutions then please get in touch with RWM Managing Director Nick Woore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 929 6083 for more information about exhibiting at the UK’s largest recycling and waste management exhibition.