The plastics industry does not want you to stop needing plastic products, it stands to simple basic business reason. Until such time as scrap waste has a commercial value, on a global scale, there will be no drive or strive for improvement. Also, the reliance on plastic is a global issue, we may be doing our bit by putting our empty bottles in the recycling bin at home, but what about when you are out and about? Do you bring your empty bottle home to put in your recycle bin or bung it in the first available everything and anything trash unit? Whilst we in the UK are ‘doing our but’, what about some of these emerging, growing, economic countries, we’ve seen the photos of the Mayan river choked with discarded rubbish.
Think it’s not such a big deal? Back about a couple of decades or so ago, before home recycling really took off, many charities would collect old newspapers, when they had a car full off they’d drive to a centre who would weigh it and give them a cheque – it became a highly lucrative income stream. Paper had a commercial value, it was worth collecting. Then all of a sudden it became worthless, a happenstance that could be attributed to the following. American was in an economic depression (what’s that to do with me dog eared copy of Pigeon Fanciers Gazette). Well you see folks, because the jolly US of A peeps weren’t out spending, there was less being imported, significant quantities coming from China, therefore less cartons, boxes and packaging were produced which were made from recycled paper. Old paper and cardboard was exported to China from many corners of the globe, for recycling and then used to produce more boxes and packaging.
So you see, so much of things are commercially driven. Currently there is a commendable movement to reduce ‘single use plastics’, there is hardly a product in our home now that doesn’t have a plastic element. It will take decades, a lot of joined up thinking and action before anything will change. The general public consumer is being told to choose the non-plastic version, take your own country cup to the coffee shop, recycle your old/used items, but unless those items are readily available at a comparable price, it will be slow going, and incredibly minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
Many more of our daily use items (I’m envisioning toothbrushes, food containers, picnic sets, children’s toys, garment hangers etc) are made of an un-recyclable plastic. This is where business needs to do its part, research and develop a recycling method for that plastic, find the market for the recycled plastic to be used or switch to a recyclable plastic version. All this is beyond the realm of we mere consumers.
Until everybody, everywhere, gets onboard, we will still continue choking.