Big steps and little leaps in tackling single use plastics

You may have noticed we love bamboo as an alternative to plastic items, but unfotunately it's not a panacea for all single-use plastic problems. Bamboo straws and cotton buds are superb, replacing unnecessary plastic with a biodegradable material definitely counts, but bamboo is not a suitable replacement for film packaging or single use plastic water bottles - not without adding plastic to it.

Single use plastics are well and truly in the spot light. With many countries making amazing changes around the globe.

China has announced that it will be banning single use plastics over the next 5 years, from single use straws to hotel toiletries.

China bans single use plastics

Intercontinentals Hotel Group (IHG) - owners of Holiday Inn and Holiday Express have also resolved to phase out all miniature toiletry bottles by next year by using bulk items instead. Maybe this is all overthinking the problem when there is an even easier, more obvious solution and that it to take your own washbag with you.

France is setting the "barre", returning to a much simpler solution which fits in with their way of life, to not create the need for disposables in the first place. This is a great article written from an American's perspective. The take-away from it is to sit and drink water/coffee/tea/milkshake rather than carrying the drinks about in plastic. This suggests a change in way of life, rather than the on the hoof, too busy to sit kind of lifestyle that seems to be revered in the modern cultures. 

With all the changes in mindset, tweaks to manufacturing  - does this mean we are on the way to cracking the plastic problem?

Now for some big corp bad news

Exxon Mobile are planning more plastic manufacturing plants, new plants are being built to cope with the increase in demand, they say, and the word on the street is that they are planning increases in oil distribution. 

Coke Inc have declared they will continue to sell coke in plastic bottles because that's what their customers want - lightweight with a tight fitting seal. 

They are now regarded as one of the most polluting companies - producing 200,000 plastic bottles a minute. They state that their aim is to recycle all the bottles they produce, it will be interesting to see how they do this when so many can be found outside of regular rubbish bins, nevermind in recycling bins. 

 

A bit more bad news...

Asia is no longer buying the recycling from the west. They were buying plastics and paper waste, and now this is not longer going to be a useful way of some nations getting rid of their plastic problem - so the onus is on the countries producing it. 

Does recycling actually end up being recycled?

One source working in the catering industry says that in Norwich some businesses were told to put recycling and food waste in the one bin, that it gets sorted at the recycling centre - that doesn't marry up to the three rules for recyclable plastics, clean dry and unbagged. 

The amount of recycling that does not pass these requirements and thrown into landfill is staggering. 

With more plastic production planned, poor provision for used plastics and inadequate recycling plants, it looks like the responsibility stops with the consumer, by not buying goods that come wrapped in plastic - rather than hoping the current system will change.

Cruise ships throwing rubbish overboard

Not that cruise ships are notorious for being great for the environment, back in June of last year cruise giant Carnival was fined a staggering $20 million for throwing rubbish overboard and apparently this has been going on for years.

Not just rubbish, but percentage of fecal matter and the Ph of sewage regularly come up as reasons for fines being imposed on all cruiseships. It seems they make such enormous profits they don't change their practises, just pay the fines and carry on polluting until they are caught again. 

An interesting read can be found here:

Some good news...

Turning waste into plastic

Student Lucy Hughes has won the 2019 James Dyson award for producing bioplastic made from fishing waste. Not one for vegans, it's made from waste scales and skin. Lucy's idea occurred to her when working on a project to reduce the 50 tonnes of fish waste produced by the fishing industry in a year. 

Nature is so good at creating 'polymers' why are we making them from oil when it's already been done. Perfecting her MarinaTex, which takes little energy to produce, her alternative to single use plastic is strong and breaks down in 6 weeks and it can even be eaten.  

Turning plastic into roads

Macrebur are a UK company turning non-reclyclable plastic into roads - inspired by potholes being filled in India with waste plastic, a team worked on a viable, scalable product to rival asphalt roads, solving two problems at once. Read more about Macrebur products here.

A few more great ideas and we could be on the way to making a difference, it has never been a better time to switch to plastic alternatives such as bamboo disposables and to reduce our consumption overall.